Needing two wins in its final three games to reach a bowl game for the third time in four years, IU football's matchup with Maryland is a must-win game.
The Terrapins come to Bloomington after losing two of their last three games, and they need a victory with two tough games approaching against Ohio State and Penn State.
Here are three key things to know about IU’s upcoming opponent.
1. The Terrapins are one win away from bowl eligibility
Maryland will enter Saturday’s game with a 5-4 record, needing one more win from its final three games to attain bowl eligibility. With games against Ohio State and Penn State still on the horizon, this week presents the Terps’ best opportunity for that precious sixth win. After a disappointing performance in a 24-3 loss to Michigan State, Maryland will look to turn things around and keep its bowl hopes alive against IU.
Maryland won’t be the only team playing for its postseason lives Saturday. IU comes into Saturday’s contest needing to win two of its last three games to reach a bowl. After finishing 5-7 last season, Coach Tom Allen’s Hoosiers are looking to get back to the postseason for the first time in his tenure.
Saturday’s game is virtually a must-win for IU considering games at No. 4 Michigan and at home against Purdue remain on the schedule.
2. Maryland’s offense relies heavily on its running game.
While many teams may stress the need for a balanced offense to keep defenses on their toes, that certainly isn’t the case for Coach Matt Canada and the Terrapins. The Terps average more than 220 yards per game on the ground, while only picking up 125 yards per game through the air.
Leading this proficient rushing attack are running backs senior Ty Johnson and freshman Anthony McFarland. Johnson is the regular starter for the Terps and has racked up 468 yards this season along with finding the end zone three times. Johnson did miss Maryland’s game against Michigan State with a calf strain, and he’ll be a game-time decision Saturday.
McFarland is in his first full season for Maryland after redshirting last year, and he’s immediately become a key part of its offense. Through the first nine games of the season, McFarland is averaging 6.9 yards per rush and leads the team in carries so far. The combination of Johnson and McFarland is the most efficient part of Maryland’s offense, and the IU run defense will need to have one of its better games in order to slow the tandem down.
3. Maryland has dominated teams in the lower half of the Big Ten.
Through six conference games, Maryland holds a record of 3-3. Maryland’s three wins against Minnesota, Rutgers and Illinois have come by an average of 27.7 points, while the three losses against Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State have all been blowouts, with Maryland losing by an average of 21.7 points. Maryland’s inconsistency was highlighted in the last three weeks, as the Terps bookended a blowout win over Illinois with lopsided defeats against Iowa and Michigan State.
The combined win-loss record of the three Big Ten teams that Maryland has beaten is 3-15. With IU currently sitting at 1-5 in conference, the Hoosiers are exactly the kind of team that Maryland has beaten this season.
It’ll take a strong effort on both sides of the ball to ensure IU isn’t one of the Big Ten bottom-feeders that Maryland has feasted on this season.
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