After an injury-filled defeat against No. 2 Ohio State on Friday and the F&M Open tournament in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Maryland wrestling was short of fully-fit competitors ahead of Sunday's meet against No. 20 Nebraska.
As a result, the Terps started against the Cornhuskers as they have for much of their Big Ten slate — behind.
In Maryland's fourth straight contest against a ranked opponent, it began in a 6-0 hole as no Terp was available to wrestle Nebraska's 157-pounder Tyler Berger, who is ranked No. 9 in the country. Few Maryland wrestlers put up much resistance as the Cornhuskers drubbed the Terps, 48-3, snapping Nebraska's three-match losing stretch and keeping Maryland winless in conference duals.
"We knew we were coming in down 12 points," coach Kerry McCoy said. "It's disappointing to not have a full lineup, but circumstances happen. We told guys they have to step up."
No. 10-ranked Isaiah White took just half of the first period to fall Maryland's 165-pound Brendan Burnham. The Terps (3-6, 0-6 Big Ten) forfeited the 174-pound class, and then No. 6-ranked Taylor Venz — the highest-ranked wrestler on the Cornhuskers (3-3, 1-1) — beat Niko Cappello handily, 18-0, with a second-period technical fall. Then, 197-pound Eric Schultz won a major decision, 19-3, over Maryland's Mansur Abdul-Malik.
Through five bouts, Maryland sat in a 27-0 hole.
But the one constant throughout Maryland's season has been heavyweight Youssif Hemida, the lone ranked wrestler on the Terps' roster. Despite the team's winless Big Ten campaign thus far, No. 10 Hemida hasn't lost a conference bout.
Hemida controlled his bout against David Jensen to earn a 7-4 decision. Despite a late Jensen escape in the second period to draw the score within 4-3, Hemida countered with one further takedown to secure his 17th win of the season and extend his Big Ten record to 6-0.
"It was a match I had to grind through. I got pretty tired," said Hemida, who wasn't fully physically recovered from Friday's meet. "He kept wrestling, kept taking shots, which I actually like that. I like when heavyweights are attacking … so I definitely have respect for him for that. But I didn't really feel threatened by his shots, though. Even though it was a close, three-point match, I felt like I was in control the whole time."
After Hemida's win, the contest looped back around to the 125-pounders. Maryland redshirt freshman Brandon Cray carried a 2-1 edge over Mitchell Maginnis at the end of the first period, but the Cornhuskers senior recovered to beat Cray by decision, 9-4.
Three more defeats followed for the Terps to secure their sixth Big Ten loss, including that of 141-pound Ryan Diehl. The junior stayed tight with No. 8 Chad Red, finishing the first period trailing 2-1, but the ranked foe quickly ended the contest with a fall to begin the second frame.
Having completed a gauntlet of ranked opponents, Maryland will face Navy, Brown and Harvard, three unranked squads. It will serve as a welcome respite for a team pitted against ranked wrestlers often during its five-dual losing streak.
"It is a chance to improve our record and improve our confidence," Hemida said. "That's kind of what we need right now. … I think it'll be honestly really good for us, get some wins under our belt because it's been a couple meets where a lot of guys — most guys — weren't winning."