Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: The Maryland game won't make IU football's season, but it can break it

<p>Sophomore running back Stevie Scott III defends the ball Oct. 12 in Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers will play Maryland this weekend in College Park, Maryland. </p>

Sophomore running back Stevie Scott III defends the ball Oct. 12 in Memorial Stadium. The Hoosiers will play Maryland this weekend in College Park, Maryland.

Pass or fail.

Everyone has been in a class where those are the only two options. Either pass the class and have it be a footnote of what your college experience ends up being, or fail it and leave a permanent blemish on the magical — or destructive — three-letter acronym known as your GPA.

Well, IU football faces the equivalent of a pass/fail course on Saturday. 

The Hoosiers travel to Maryland to face a Terrapins team that sits with an uninspiring 3-3 record. They’re coming off an embarrassing 40-14 loss to an extremely under-manned Purdue team.

Yet, it will not likely be a cakewalk for the Hoosiers in College Park, Maryland. With a tough back half of the schedule, Maryland will be desperate for a victory in order to keep its own bowl hopes alive.

The Terps also have perhaps the best offense the Hoosiers have faced this season not named Ohio State. 

Maryland is a more than respectable 44th in ESPN’s S&P+ offensive rankings, and are 28th in the FBS in total scoring at 36.8 points per game. The rushing attack is what powers the Maryland offense, as it averages 5.63 yards per carry, tied for ninth in the FBS.

But bigger picture, since the Terps joined the Big Ten, they have played a big role in defining whether IU football has passed or failed the given season.

Everyone remembers IU losing to Purdue in 2017 to end up with a 5-7 season instead of a third straight bowl berth.

However, many forget the Hoosiers dropped a game in mid October 42-39 to the Terrapins. IU’s best defense in 25 years gave up 42 points to Max Bortenschlager, who was Maryland’s third string quarterback at the start of the season. 

IU lost, and failed the season because of it.

In 2015, the Hoosiers traveled to College Park with a 4-6 record, and fell behind 21-0 before Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard closed the game on a 44-7 run. IU beat Purdue the following week to earn its first bowl bid in the Kevin Wilson era.

In 2014, the Hoosiers welcomed the Terrapins to Bloomington for the first time as conference foes. The week prior, IU had just knocked off a ranked University of Missouri team that would go on to win the SEC East, and expectations were as high as they have ever been for Wilson’s program.

But, the Terps whipped the Hoosiers 37-15 to sap the momentum. Sudfeld would suffer a season ending shoulder injury against Iowa two weeks later and the Hoosiers finished the season with a disappointing 4-8. Season failed.

This season, the stakes are similar. If the Hoosiers win, their baseline is likely going 6-6 and earning the program's third bowl berth of the decade, which would still mean a passing season. 

But a win also opens the door to having a historically great season for the program. If IU wins Saturday, the possibility of having the school’s first winning season since 2007 comes into play. 

The Hoosiers would have a path to winning eight games for the eighth time in 121 years of football. 

Heck, even #9WINDIANA is a possibility.

However, if the Hoosiers fall in College Park on Saturday, the best case scenario is an unlikely 6-6. But it’s hard to believe IU would be able to win two out of three — at Nebraska, Northwestern at home and at Purdue — if it can’t knock off Maryland.

On Saturday we will get a great indication on whether IU football will pass or fail in 2019.

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