Amid turmoil, No. 2 Michigan can earn the 1,000th win in program history when it faces Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Amid all the turmoil and uncertainty surrounding No. 2 Michigan, the Wolverines have a chance to reach a milestone more than 140 years in the making.
A win at Maryland on Saturday would make Michigan the first college football program with 1,000 victories. The first of those wins took place in 1879 against Racine.
The Wolverines (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) are trying for their third straight conference championship, and next week’s showdown with Ohio State is the hurdle they need to clear as they pursue that. In fact, Michigan could lose to Maryland (6-4, 3-4) and still reach the Big Ten title game by beating the Buckeyes.
If the Wolverines are looking ahead — or distracted by the sign-stealing scandal that resulted in the suspension of coach Jim Harbaugh for the rest of the regular season — maybe a shot at a historic victory can help them stay focused. Harbaugh, whose sideline ban doesn’t prevent him from coaching his team during the week, took the time to acknowledge the winningest teams at other levels of football.
“Just really want to shout out the Green Bay Packers, most wins in NFL history: 793,” he said. “Most wins in high school football, Valdosta, Georgia: 951. Michigan Wolverines: 999. No one has won more. Nobody. I want to thank everyone who has put on the winged helmet.”
Maryland played Michigan tough last season in a 34-27 loss, but the Terrapins have beaten the Wolverines only once in 11 meetings. That was in 2014, Maryland’s first season in the Big Ten — and Michigan’s last before Harbaugh arrived.
The Terps snapped a four-game losing streak last weekend at Nebraska to become bowl eligible.
“We found a way to win that game,” coach Michael Locksley said. “It was much needed. … Being able to get back on the winning track rejuvenated that locker room.”
The sign-stealing scheme that has hovered over Michigan has been one of the biggest stories in sports for nearly a month.
Harbaugh was suspended for the final three games of the regular season by the Big Ten and missed last week’s win over then-No. 9 Penn State. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore coached the Wolverines in that one.
Harbaugh insisted the country is behind the Wolverines.
“It’s got to be America’s team,” Harbaugh said. “America loves a team that beats the odds, beats the adversity, overcomes what the naysayers and so-called experts think.”
Michigan announced Thursday that Harbaugh will serve the suspension and the conference would end its investigation into the sign-stealing scheme. That was part of an agreement to resolve the school’s lawsuit against the league.
Locksley said when the Michigan controversy came to light, his team acted quickly to alter signals.
“Once we heard that two or three weeks ago, we made a lot of the necessary adjustments. Because if one has them, as you read here, anybody can have them,” Locksley said. “Offense, defense, we’ve definitely mixed up our communications and how we’re able to do it. So we don’t feel like that will have any effect on our game.”
PASSING A TEST
Michigan faced a ranked team for the first time last week and beat Penn State 24-15 on the road.
“It proved that we are legit,” defensive tackle Kenneth Grant said.
Josh Gattis, Maryland’s offensive coordinator, spent three seasons at Michigan in the same role from 2019-21. He won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant in 2021.
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