Story By: Andrew Lang
Photos By: Sol Tucker
The Terps came to Nashville as a strong underdog and labeled as a team that had no chance to beat the likes of Auburn with a back-up quarterback and other players opting out of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl… well they just flipped that script with a commanding 31-13 victory over Auburn today at Nissan Stadium.
With record-setting Terps Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, opting-out of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, head coach Mike Locksley turned to his inexperienced and seldom played backup Billy Edwards Jr. to start this bowl game that was broadcasted nationally on ABC. Edwards earned the MVP Award for this bowl game. This is the first time the Terps have ever won three consecutive bowl games dating back to 2021’s Pinstripe Bowl victory, and last year’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over NC State.
The Tigers’ offense went three-and-out in their first two drives of the game. Auburn narrowly avoided a third three-and-out drive thanks to Oscar Chapman successfully executing a fake punt from inside the Tigers’ own 15-yard line.
The very next play showed the Terps meant business on defense as they stalled the Tigers on one of many occasions today and Auburn offense eventually turned the ball over on downs, ending a 14-play, 42-yard drive that stalled near midfield.
When Maryland got the ball back on the next series of downs, this is when Terps Head Coach Mike Locksley knew he could test the Auburn defense and take shots down the field. Both Billy Edwards and freshman quarterback Cameron Edge tore up Auburn’s defense in the first quarter as they combined for 158 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air. This was basically the end of a War Eagle battle today.
Glendon Miller continued to help pour it on for the terps in the second half with his 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was the Terps’ first pick-six in a game since 2018 and the first in a bowl game since 2002.
“I’m really proud of this team, proud of the way our seniors led this program. Three straight bowl wins, back-to-back eight-win seasons. It’s not easy to do here…To be able to sit here as three straight seasons finishing with wins at the end of the season is a testament to these kids. I love the contributions we got from some of the young players today. I love the way the veteran players led us and finished the job, which you see very rarely in college football these days, and obviously they found a way to get the job done.”
While this is another great notch for the Locksley led Terps team, there is still plenty of work to be done in the off- season. He mentioned on the stage that there will be some quarterback competition when it comes to next season. Earlier this month, former N.C State quarterback MJ Morris announced he was transferring to Maryland for the 2024 season. This should give Locksley a lot to figure out after the performance of Edwards and Edge today.
This closes out our 2023 season with the Terps. We have enjoyed the up and down roller coaster of a season and look forward to what 2024 might bring for the Terps. Could this be the year that the Terps finally prevail in the Big Ten just as Locksley suggested? Only time will tell, but we look forward to being there for another ride, as each year has been a bit different, but somewhat rewarding to watch until the end.