The quarterback has the right last name, and the coach has the right pedigree. And yet, players who are sports betting in Maryland are getting long odds of the Terrapins contending in the power-packed Big Ten.
At least that’s the consensus opinion from bookmakers, who saddled the Terps with +10000 odds of winning the conference, per FanDuel Sportsbook — a number knotted with Purdue and Michigan State and worse than only +25000 Illinois, with Rutgers not on the board.
Maryland has also opened as an underdog in five of the six games on which DraftKings Sportsbook has placed odds.
It’s all a cold dose of reality for a program hoping to make improvement from 2020’s Covid-plagued 2-3 season, which came on the heels of a 3-9 record in 2019.
Even with Taulia Tagovailoa — brother of former Alabama star Tua — behind center and former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as coach, the Terps are still struggling to build the consistency and depth of a winning program, much less a contending one.
Big Ten Struggles Expected To Continue
The chasm between the elites and Maryland when betting on college football is further evident in the Terrapins’ +40000 odds of winning the national championship, among Big Ten teams (again, Rutgers excluded) better than only the +50000 of Illinois.
Maryland has had just one winning season since leaving the ACC for the Big Ten and hasn’t been relevant on the national stage since winning 10 or more games in three straight seasons under Ralph Friedgen from 2001-03.
A look at the sports betting odds show Maryland's chances of winning the Big Ten East seem more palatable at +5000, that number is still tied with Michigan State for worst among the teams on the board, and well behind the +1400 odds of Michigan, the No. 4 choice in the division.
Maryland has never finished higher than third in a division since joining the Big Ten.
Hopes in 2020 are surely pinned on Tagovailoa, who needs to improve from the seven interceptions he tossed in five games last season, as well as a very good group of receivers.
But the Terrapins must also rebuild a defense that gave up 430 yards and 32 points per outing in 2020, a glaring reason for the gloomy outlook among books for 2021.
West Virginia Presents Early Challenge
Maryland’s season win total has been set at 5.5, although the Terrapins haven’t won six games or more since 2016.
The Terps will get a challenge right away with a Sept. 4 home game against West Virginia, which is coming off a 6-4 campaign and has a season win total of 7. The Terps are 3.5-point underdogs in College Park.
The only game currently on the board in which Maryland is a favorite is a Sept. 16 trip to Illinois, where the Terps are favored by 4.5.
They’re then an 8-point home underdog against Indiana on Oct. 30, a 10.5-point home underdog against Penn State on Nov. 6, a 2.5-point underdog at Michigan State on Nov. 13, and a 7-point home underdog against Michigan on Nov. 20.
Going over that 5.5 total likely hinges on Maryland starting strong; after the opener against West Virginia, the Terps play Howard, Illinois and Kent State. The Terps then close with eight straight conference games, allowing scant room to make up for an unforeseen early stumble.