The Big Ten gets off to a good start in October with two undefeated teams meeting at College Park when the No.5 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) and Maryland Terrapins (4-0) play on Friday night.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a slightly disappointing effort last weekend, beating Colorado State 24-14 in a game in which Iowa was lagging behind at halftime. As it has been since the beginning of time apparently, the Hawkeyes are doing the job on the defensive side of the ball as they currently rank 13th.e nationally, allowing just 272 yards per game.
Conversely for the Terrapins, the offense has improved significantly since last season, averaging over 500 yards per game after scoring 526 yards last Saturday in a 37-16 win over Kent State. . Junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa continued her stifling start to the year against the Flashes, completing 75% of her throw for 384 yards and three touchdowns, and even generated discussions about the Heisman Trophy with three passing performances from 300 yards. in four games.
# 5 Iowa, Maryland
To start up: Friday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET
Disseminate: Iowa -4
When Iowa has the ball
Iowa is one of those college football programs that, regardless of squad turnover, typically has one of the best offensive lines in the country. That was not the case in 2021, which was illustrated against Colorado State when the group allowed eight tackles for a loss and three sacks. Over the year, Iowa ranks 121st nationwide in lines and 127e in the offensive tip rate, leading to just 3.34 yards per team carry. Star running back Tyler Goodson ran just 57 yards in 18 carries against the Rams, with more than half the yards accumulated in a single attempt. Pretty good against Colorado State, not against a Big Ten opponent on the road.
Junior quarterback Spencer Petras appears to have improved since last season, increasing his completion percentage to 60% with just one interception in the first month. The Hawkeyes appeared to take some deeper shots last week against CSU, including a nice pass from Petras to freshman star Keagan Johnson that resulted in a 43-yard scoreline. Tight end Sam LaPorta continues to be a big presence in the passing game with 17 receptions and two touchdowns, tied for seventh among the nation’s tight ends.
When Maryland has the ball
It wasn’t a perfect performance for the Terps last week against Kent State in a game that looked like they might be waiting for Iowa due to countless mistakes. Tagovailoa threw his first interception of the season, although it was a shot that bounced wide receiver Rakim Jarrett’s hands into the waiting arms of a defender. Jarrett’s fall would be the first in a long streak, as Maryland receivers have been credited with seven falls, according to Pro Football Focus, easily a season high. Drops aside, the Terps have one of the best wide receiver duos in the conference with Jarrett and Dontay Demus Jr. averaging over 170 yards per game with six total TDs.
While the accolades have gone to Tagovailoa and that passing attack, senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis continues to provide offensive balance, averaging over seven yards per carry, and has already 14 catches in four games out of the backfield. The luge is expected to be tough Friday night, however, against an Iowa defense that has yet to allow 100 yards in a game all season and has limited Kent State and Colorado State to less than two yards per carry in recent years. weeks. An under-the-radar challenge for the Terps will potentially be having to overcome a poor field position, as Iowa punter Tory Taylor has become a weapon for the Hawkeyes, averaging nearly 48 yards per kick.
Iowa has already shown this season that it can go on the road and beat a top opponent after beating Iowa State in Week 2, but Maryland presents a different challenge with a quarterback in Tagovailoa who is playing as well as anyone in the country right now. If it were last year, the Hawkeyes’ ball defense (+5 rotation margin) would have a significant advantage, but Tagovailoa appears to have sorted out the issues that plagued him in second year with just one interception during of the first month. I suspect this game will be played on the wire and look at the home team whose offense has been more reliable so far.
Prediction: Maryland 24, Iowa 23
Podcast: Full 5 Week Preview & Predictions + Choices Against the Spread
– Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge graduated from Northern Illinois University. Follow him on twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.