College Park, Md. — Maryland hits the road in search looking to secure consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2001-03.
That's a good thing for Terrapins, who have done their best work on the road this year.
A victory at Michigan would give the Terrapins (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) five true road victories for the first time since 1984. Maryland, which closes its regular season next week at home against Rutgers, hasn't won five games away from College Park since 2002.
"Maybe there's less distractions on the road and guys rally around each other a little bit more," coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday. "Not to say they don't at home. I don't know. Our preparation is really the same. The routine is the same. It's hard to explain."
It's a significant pivot from the early stages of Edsall's tenure.
Maryland was 3-10 in road games under Edsall before upending Virginia Tech and North Carolina State late last season. The success has continued this year, with defeats of South Florida, Syracuse, Indiana and Penn State.
Despite its struggles for much of the season, Michigan (5-5, 3-3) still poses a substantial challenge for Maryland. The Wolverines have won three of their last four to remain in contention for a postseason berth, but must split their final two games to extend their season by a contest.
With a season-ending trip to No. 7 Ohio State looming, Michigan's best chance to earn a bowl bid might come Saturday against a team with a sound understanding of how to thrive away from home. While the size of the crowd might be different than usual, Maryland believes much about this trip will be the same as past ones.
"Other than the number, I don't think so," defensive end Andre Monroe said. "I feel like loud is loud when it gets loud. Now we've kind of warmed to that kind of environment. I think we should be used to it by now."
What's especially noteworthy about Maryland's success away from home is its unfamiliarity with its road venues. Joining the Big Ten meant a new series of schools to visit, and the Terrapins were at least 20 years removed from their last trip to any of their road opponents this season.
Maryland has not played at Michigan since 1990.
"I think it goes without saying, especially with how this year's played out. It's the first year for everyone playing in these venues, and for us to go 4-1 on the road is huge for us," quarterback C.J. Brown said. "It just goes to show the amount of focus and concentration we have."
That could partially be attributed to one of Edsall's primary messages before each trip away from College Park.
"We just try to make sure the guys understand when we go on the road, it's really the 70 of us and the number of coaches we have against everybody else," Edsall said. "I don't know if it's playing with a chip on our shoulder or whatever it might be, but we did have success and hopefully that can continue this week."