The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (3-1) and Indiana Hoosiers (2-1)
The Time: 1:30 PM EST
The Location: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Indiana
TV/Radio: Starts on BTN to Go, then transitions to BTN after noon game ends. 105.7 FM on radio
The Coaches: Randy Edsall (4th year, 16-25 at MD) Kevin Wilson (4th year, 12-27 at IU)
The Maryland Terrapins didn’t let the stench of defeat linger around the team too long. Just a week after failing to pull off the comeback against West Virginia, the Terrapins took their rage out on Syracuse and the Orange completely. Heading into a revenge game on the road, Maryland ended up winning handily 34-20 at Coach Edsall’s alma mater.
C.J. Brown threw two first half touchdowns to a resurgent Marcus Leak, while the defense came up with some huge stops led by sophomore DB Will Likely as the Terps put Syracuse away early and never looked back.
Likely finished with a team high nine tackles, one of which went for a big loss, and returned plan interception for six. His overall play earned him the Jim Thorpe Defensive Player of the Week award handed out to the best player defensively. The defense may have sacrificed over 500 yards to the Cuse offense, but Likely came up huge in the RZ to help out an already ailing defense bend but not break.
Injuries to the front seven (of which the Terps have seven starters hurt) may well play a big role when Maryland faces Indiana for just the third time in school history. The Hoosiers aren’t looking like your typical Indiana team, as they’re coming off an upset over then ranked Missouri, the SEC’s reigning champ.
Indiana rode RB Tevin Coleman and his 8.6 yards per carry on the year to the tune of 132 yards rushing, and Missouri was simply unable to contain the Hoosiers run game in a 31-27 defeat. Coleman had one touchdown run, while RB D’Angelo Roberts had 65 yards and two touchdowns for Indiana.
Indiana came in a heavy underdog after dropping a game at home to Bowling Green two weeks prior, but the loss proved helpful motivation as the team bounced back in a big way. QB Nate Sudfeld continues to be a steady player for the Hoosiers now that he’s no longer splitting time as he did last year. He’s completing 65% of his passes and while he only has two total touchdowns, his play has been good enough to continually move the chains.
Neither team offers much up defensively, so expect a Grade A, Quentin Tarantino shootout in Bloomington this Saturday. Indiana is giving up 27 points per game, while the Terps are giving up over 500 yards of offense to opponents. In other words: defense optional for tomorrow.
Key to the game: Who gets the last possession?
Vegas has the over/under on this game at a staggering 70.5 total points, which is even making some Pac-12 games look boring this weekend. Only two other games (Iowa State/Baylor and Texas A&M/Arkansas) have higher over/under estimates so far, and that’s not likely to change. This is Vegas’ way of saying expect very little in the way of defense.
In Maryland, we’ve got a bit of an anomaly here. In one respect, they’re ranked third nationally in opponent red zone scoring at 53.85%, which is a fantastic metric to show off how good they are when the stakes are high. But on the other hand, they’re 113th nationally in opponent yards per game at 513.3, meaning everywhere else they’re getting abused.
Part of that is because Maryland’s suffered a lot of injuries this year and as a result, have been relying on younger, less experienced guys to fill out the linebacking corp. The result is that they’re getting gouged when the field is more open as younger guys miss assignments, get lost in coverage, and generally adjust to the speed of the game.
Indiana should be able to control a lot of the clock with their powerful running game. There aren’t a ton of flaws in Tevin Coleman’s game and he’s a hard back to take down who also falls forward every time. Coleman will sop up a lot of carries and slow this game down a bit, but he’s also probably going to have a field day with Maryland’s linebackers. The Terps gave up 200+ yards on the ground last week, expect the same here.
But Indiana’s defense has nothing of real merit. Opponents are scoring on a perfect 100% of their tries in the red zone against the Hoosiers this year, and of course Indiana is averaging 37 points against. They’re also giving up 537 yards per game on the defensive side of the ball, and opponents are rushing for 174 yards per game and throwing for 363.
Those are some of the worst numbers in college football, period. Indiana can’t really stop anyone anywhere on the field, and Maryland’s receivers could feast on this secondary. The Terps have the size, speed, and skill advantage at the wideout spots, and a mobile QB that could give the Hoosiers trouble (much like Bowling Green did).
This one is going to come down to who gets the ball last, because they’re probably going to score and win the game.
X-Factor: Wes Brown
The Terps second-leading rusher has been awfully quiet the last couple weeks. Against West Virginia he was a DNP – CD, and against Syracuse he was outshone by Jacquille Veii in both carries and performance. But Maryland only has one back capable of bruising his way up and down a defense, while at the same time gaining yards on every carry to keep the clock rolling.
Brown has to be able to get carries and allow Maryland to finally gain some clock control, otherwise the defense is going to be tired yet again. The Terps are 115th nationally in time of possession for a reason: they either score very quickly, or don’t sustain the drive for a quick three-and-out. There’s no in between.
Indiana is very similar in that manner, except they are slightly better at managing how long their offense is on the field. These two defenses are going to be tired regardless, but Wes Brown has got to get a lot of carries here (and do a lot with them) if the Terps want to have the less exhausted unit when the fourth quarter comes around. For two teams with paper thin depth, that’s more important than ever.
I think Maryland wins this one and they win pretty good, 40-30. Why? Maryland has a better defense in the red zone (and in general), a better special teams unit than most teams in the country, and their offense isn’t that far behind Indiana’s when they show up. Maryland will show up for their first B1G game, and Indiana won’t be able to hang.