Looking to keep their magical season unblemished thus far, the Maryland Terrapins and Iowa Hawkeyes both face off with the hopes of remaining unbeaten. Iowa was expected to be very good this season. The fact that they are sitting at 4-0 is not necessarily surprising, but a byproduct of their surprising victory over Iowa State in Ames. The real surprise is with the Terps. Maryland was not projected to be quite this successful this season, but nonetheless, they are 4-0 and look like real contenders heading into this game. Maryland’s chances at making a run at the Big Ten East crown really begin Friday night in College Park. Even though Iowa is not in the East, they are one of the conference’s elite teams and just a taste of what the Terps have on tap for them this season.
Iowa Scouting Report:
Ever since Kirk Ferentz took over as the Iowa head coach, the Hawkeyes have consistently been competing for various accolades. Very rarely is there a situation in which the Iowa Hawkeyes are not in the upper echelon of teams in the Big Ten. This year is no different. Iowa is really indicative of the entire state. They are experienced, not aesthetically pleasing to watch live, but they get the job done nonetheless. Like many Big Ten teams, Iowa is just a tough team to beat in terms of physicality. They are strong and just wear down opponents.
They are led by quarterback Spencer Petras. On paper, he is nothing astonishing as his numbers are roughly half of his opposition’s stats. However, the most important thing he does is more of what he does not do: give the ball away. He only has one interception this season and always keeps Iowa in the game. College quarterbacks are very rarely known as game managers, but Petras is about as close as it gets to one. He will not be the one who loses the game for Iowa because of his decision making. He is very good at getting the ball out and with precision.
Like any Big Ten team, the Hawkeyes feed off their rushing attack. Tyler Goodson is their main rusher. So far this season, he has amassed over 350 yards on the ground. For Goodson, he is not going to burst through a hole every single play. Instead, the Hawkeyes consistently run the ball until the defense b worn out. For example, their game against Iowa State earlier this season is the perfect example of their game plan. They simply wore out the Cyclones.
That is a perfect segway into the biggest strength for the Hawkeyes: their team defense. In the opposite way that they do not give the football away, the Iowa defense is very good at turning over the opposing offense. In order for Iowa to thrive, they will be able to stifle an opposing offense. There is not one player in particular that does the work for Iowa, but a more balanced attack. They are a very fundamentally sound team and one that will not beat themselves.
Maryland’s Big Break:
Every season, there is a team that comes out of nowhere to shock the college football world. Just this season, Arkansas has come out of thin air to now be ranked in the top ten. Maybe Maryland is the next team to make the ascent. When putting the two teams’ blind resumes on paper, it is honestly difficult to understand how Maryland is not even ranked. They have dominated in almost every single statistical category this season. Yes, strength of schedule (or lack thereof) plays a factor, but the Terps certainly have the case to at least be in the rankings. Nonetheless, a win against Iowa most likely would put them in the rankings.
This game will see two teams pitting one strength against the other team’s strength. The Terps offense against the Iowa defense will be a fun cat and mouse game to watch the entire night. Taulia Tagovailoa is finally getting the national praise he deserves. Dan Enos and the entire offense have seemingly gone mainstream as the national media have finally taken notice. Dontay Demus, Rakim Jarrett, and Jeshaun Jones all combine for arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in all of college football. The team can simply put up points and can do so in a hurry and just about any way imaginable.
The question becomes whether or not their defense can keep them in the game. Using the season opener against West Virginia as a comparable game in terms of atmosphere, quality of opponent (Iowa is, however, much better than WVU), among other factors, the Terps might not have the easiest time with the Iowa offense. Yes, it is underwhelming on paper, but that is the trap that the Hawkeyes lure their opponents into every week. The second a team eases up, it is over. The secondary that has played so well thus far this season will have to continue to do that. The defensive line that is third in the Big Ten in sacks with 16 will need to create havoc in the backfield all game long.
The last big factor in this game is the stadium environment. Anytime a ranked team comes into College Park, it is a scene to say the least. This Friday night, though, it is the annual Blackout game and on a Friday night no less with a national television audience. To say that The Shell will be rocking will be an understatement. Against West Virginia, the fans packed Maryland Stadium and forced multiple penalties on the Mountaineers due to the sheer amount of noise. The Terps will try to squeeze as much energy from their fans as possible in order to pull off the huge upset.
This bout between Maryland and Iowa feels like one of those games that will set the stage for the remainder of the season. Maryland will have a lot of eyes on them and they will have a huge chance to prove that they are legit contenders. This is just the beginning of many games against highly ranked teams. The Hawkeyes might look unintimidating, but they are ranked #5 for a reason. They can win games in many different ways. Maryland is hoping for a little magic and a signature win on Friday night to officially put them on the map.
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium