After a much-needed bye week, Maryland Football returned to action as they traveled to Minnesota for a Big 10 matchup and an opportunity to steal a win on the road to stay in the hunt for a bowl game. But, It was just not Maryland’s day as the Terp’s (4-3, 1-3 B1G) lose on the road 34-16.
Both teams were both a little out of sorts in the first quarter as the quarter ended in a 3-3 tie, with the Terp’s offense not clicking and having one turnover. The second quarter was a different story as the Minnesota offensive line took control of the game, as the Gophers (5-2, 3-1 B1G) gained over 175 rushing yards in the first half to take 17-3 lead, but midway through the 2nd quarter the Terp’s settled down and Maryland QB Tulia Tagovailoa hit WR Marcus Fleming on a 43 yard pass and then Tayon Fleet-Davis scored from 13 yards out to make the score 17-10. Maryland showed some grit as the Maryland special teams came up big as DB Tarheeb Still blocked a field goal attempt with 4 seconds left in the half, as the halftime scored was 17-10 Minnesota.
Minnesota received the 2nd half kickoff, as Maryland was in a great position to make a stop when they gave up the big play when Gopher QB Tanner Morgan connected with WR Mike Brown Stephens for a 35-yard game and then Minnesota RB Bryce Williams scores from 2 yards out to make the score 24-10. The Terrapins’ next drive ended in a failed 4th and 1 attempt, as a wide opened Chigoziem Okonkwo dropped the pass. After turning the ball over on downs, Minnesota continued to pound the ball on the ground as that drive ended up with RB Mar’Keise Irving was the 4th different Gopher to score as rushing touchdown as Irving’s 9 yard TD run made the score 31-10. Minnesota added a FG and the Terp’s scored on a late touchdown to make the final score 34-16.
There were some execution problems for the Terps, and there were also quite a few mental errors as Maryland Football was flagged for five personal foul penalties, including two blind side block penalties on the same play and two that allowed Minnesota to continue two drives. That’s enough to drive Terrapins Head Coach Mike Locksley nuts. There were several dropped passes including the 4 and 1 which stalled out a drive. On the bright side of things, when he had time Tugovailoa made the plays and executed, as well as the Terp’s scoring a rushing touchdown against the sixth-best rushing defense in the Country. Special teams mad ea huge play at the end of the first half when they blocked a Minnesota field goal attempt and had a some momentum going into the second half.
The biggest takeaway from this game was how the Minnesota offensive line just dominated the Maryland defense. I will preface things by saying the Gophers offensive line average weight is more then some NFL teams, so we are talking about grown men in the trenches. So, with that said, Minnesota just ran wild and at will against a Maryland defense that for the most part was pretty good against the rush. The Golden Gophers averaged 209 ypg, but against the Maryland defense Minnesota amassed 326 total rushing yards including four rushing touchdowns by four different Gophers. The Terp’s defense only gave up an average of 205 ypg, which was 13th most in the Big 10.
The time of possession also played a big factor in the game as well. Between how well Minnesota was running the ball and how inept the Terp’s defense was on making stops. Minnesota almost doubled there time of possession advantage by almost half at 35:03 to only 19:00 minutes for the Terp’s. It was very clear that Minnesota felt they could win the war in the trenches and that that is exactly what they did. When you average 5.8 ypc and have doubled the number of first downs than your opponent, that is a recipe for success.
This was one of those remaining games that the Terp’s needed to win in order to become bowl eligible. The rest of the schedule does not look like favorable as they face three ranked teams in Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State and three of the last five games being played at home in College Park. Next week’s game against Indiana, which is homecoming weekend and the last game of the year against Rutgers are the realistically the last remaining chances for a win. If Maryland Football wants to go bowling this year, they will need to execute better and stop all the mental mistakes top have a chance.