Halfway through the season, the Maryland Terrapins (4-2, 2-1) find themselves two wins away from being bowl eligible. However, four of their final six games come against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25. Maryland’s first test comes at No. 19 Iowa (5-1, 2-1), who have outscored their last two opponents, 90-47.
Maryland has had mixed results against ranked opponents this season. The Terrapins defeated then-No. 23 Texas, 34-29, in the team’s season opener, but couldn’t keep up two weeks ago at then-No. 15 Michigan, losing 42-21.
As has been the case this season, the play of the offense will likely decide the outcome. Quarterback Kasim Hill has yet to put forth quality efforts back-to-back this season, but he is coming off throwing a career-high three touchdown passes against Rutgers last week.
“I don’t think we’re ever satisfied,” interim head coach Matt Canada said Tuesday when asked about Hill’s progression. “So we’re going to focus on what we can get better at over time no matter how well we play, no matter how many touchdowns we score and we’re going to coach in that way.”
A big key for Maryland’s offense will be keeping Hill and the offense out of 3rd-and-long situations. Iowa’s defense ranks second in the Big Ten and seventh in the country with 3.3 sacks per game. Defensive ends Anthony Nelson and A.J. Epenesa lead the Hawkeyes with five sacks apiece.
“When you line up and you watch them, they bring pressure when they feel they need to get home, but they get a lot of pressure with just those front four players they have,” Canada said. “They’re strong, they play great with their hands, and they create a lot of chaos for you on offense.”
Maryland will also look to continue to force more turnovers on defense. The team recorded five interceptions against Rutgers, its most since 1998, and the Terrapins lead the Big Ten with a turnover margin of 1.5 per game. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown 15 touchdown this season, but he has also been picked off once in his last four games. Safety Darnell Savage, Jr. leads Maryland with four interceptions, tied for most in the country.
“We’re trying to get takeaways,” Canada said. “We’re trying to strip the football. We’re trying to be ballhawks when the ball is in the air and go after it like it’s our ball and not theirs.”
Kickoff is set for noon at Kinnick Stadium.