Both teams will be fighting to keep their bowl hopes alive this weekend when the Indiana Hoosiers host the Maryland Terrapins. Kickoff is scheduled for noon EST on Saturday, November 10, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. Fans can watch the game on the Big Ten Network.
According to this week’s college football odds, the Hoosiers are 3.5-point favorites at home. That line has increased a little after Indiana opened the week favored by 2.5 points. The over/under for the game is set at 55 points.
Indiana has seen such a promising start to the season completely fall apart. The Hoosiers are in the midst of a four-game after losing to Minnesota 38-31 last week. To be fair, two of those four losses came against Ohio State and Penn State in games that were more competitive than most people expected.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that the 4-5 Hoosiers need to win two of their last three games in order to play in a bowl game. With a road trip to no. 4 Michigan planned for next week, Indiana doesn’t have much margin for error. They need to beat Maryland at home this week and beat Purdue at home the final week of the season to reach a bowl, so this is a must-win game for the Hoosiers.
Of course, the Terrapins will also be approaching this week’s game as a must-win. After a rough 24-3 loss to Michigan State last week, Maryland is 5-4 on the season and a respectable 3-3 in Big Ten play. However, the Terps will finish the season with games against Ohio State and Penn State. Barring an upset over one of those teams, the Terrapins need to beat Indiana to get their sixth win of the season. If not, it’ll take a minor miracle to get Maryland to a bowl.
On the bright side, all of the turmoil surrounding former head coach D.J. Durkin has been resolved. Last week was no doubt a tough week to be on campus for the Terrapins. Perhaps a road game is what they need right now to focus on football and get the win they need.
These two teams have split their four meetings since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014. The Terps scratched out a 42-39 win in College Park last year, although the Hoosiers won this matchup in each of the two previous seasons.
I could go either way with this game, but the line moving to more than a field goal was my tipping point in picking Maryland. It’s tough to swallow that many points for an Indiana team that hasn’t won a game since September. I’ve maintained some level of belief in Maryland for most of the season. I also think they’re more deserving of a bowl game given the character they’ve shown this year amidst everything that’s happened away from the field. I’ll lean toward the Terrapins to at least beat the spread if not beat Indiana straight up.
Admittedly, Maryland has plenty of shortcomings on offense. Specifically, they have virtually no passing attack with quarterback Kasim Hill. On the season, Hill is barely over the 50% completion mark and has barely eclipsed 1,000 passing yards over nine games.
However, I’ll concede that Hill has had some decent performances. He threw three touchdowns against both Rutgers and Illinois. Meanwhile, the Indiana pass defense has been shredded time and time again this season. That provides me with some hope that Hill can make a few plays with his arm this week.
More importantly, I know that Maryland will be able to run the ball against Indiana. Despite being stuffed on the ground against teams like Iowa and Michigan State, the Terrapins still have one of the best running games in the country. On the season, the Terps gain over 220 yards per game and nearly six yards per carry running the ball. There’s little evidence of the Indiana defense being able to contain such a potent rushing attack. The Terps should be able to run the ball with consistency, allowing them to control the clock and the game.
On the other side of the ball, I have some concerns about the Indiana offense. At times, the Hoosiers have put points on the board this season. But they can’t seem to do it without turning the ball over. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey has thrown 10 interceptions this season, with five of them coming in his last three games. Indiana has turned it over 10 times during their four-game losing streak and 14 times in their six Big Ten games. Needless to say, that’s not a winning formula. I think the Maryland defense is talented enough to keep up that trend this week.
All things considered, I have to side with the team that I know can run the ball and is less of a turnover risk, and that’s Maryland. November games in the Big Ten usually come down to winning at the line of scrimmage and running the ball. The Terrapins can do that, and if they also win the turnover battle, all the better. Even as road underdogs, I like Maryland, especially with a 3.5-point cushion.