When: Nov. 21, noon ET
Where: College Park, Md.; Byrd Stadium (51,802)
All-Time Series: Indiana leads 2-1
Last Meeting: Maryland Win, 35-17 (2014)
Line: Maryland -3
1 Burning Question: Is This the Last Stand for Kevin Wilson?
Did you know that Indiana is 0-6 in Big Ten play heading in to the final two weeks of the Big Ten season? It sure doesn’t seem like that after watching them nearly upset Michigan last week and play some really dynamic offensive football. However, after a 4-0 start to the 2015 season, this team has dropped six straight games.
It’s led to a watershed moment for head coach Kevin Wilson — win and advance to the next test, take a loss and do not pass go.
That may seem overly simple, but in his fifth season in Bloomington getting to a bowl game should be a minimum requirement. Don’t get me wrong, it is refreshing to watch a school not give up on a coach in a year or two like has been the trend as of late, but at some point positive moral victories aren’t enough.
Indiana ends the season with arguably the two worst teams in the conference and needs a win in both games to get to 6-6 and bowl eligibility. Wins over Maryland and Purdue (next week) need to happen, or Wilson could well find himself out of a job by the final days of November.
2 Key Stats:
—13.0: That is the number of sacks racked up by Maryland’s junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Maryland hasn’t had a great overall season on the defensive side of the ball, but Ngakoue is sure doing his part. He’s just 0.5 of a sack away from tying the Maryland single-season record of 13.5 sacks. Indiana will need to keep Nate Sudfeld upright to win this game, so be on the lookout for double teams off the edge against Ngakoue.
— 149.0: That is the average number of yards gained rushing by Indiana’s Jordan Howard. Last week Howard nearly re-wrote the opponent’s record book for the Michigan Wolverines, putting up 238 yards for the second-most rushing yards ever by a Michigan opponent. That 149.0 per game average is tops in the Big Ten and third nationally. So, while most think of Indiana’s offense for slinging the ball all over the place, the truth is the running game is the key to the engine that runs the Hoosiers offense.
3 Key Players:
— Brandon Ross, Maryland RB: The Terps running back leads all players at his position with 571 yards and four touchdowns, but he is just second on the team behind quarterback Perry Hills. Ross becomes even more important this week because Maryland has suspended backup running back Wes Brown. It means more carries and much more production needed from the starter than ever before this season. Can he do it?
— Sean Davis, Maryland CB: It will be senior day in College Park, and that means the last go-round for Sean Davis. He’s going to have his hands full with a handful of Indiana wide receivers who can go off at any point in time. Maryland’s pass defense is 10th in the B1G against the pass, so Davis is going to need to have a big game for the Terps to have the chance (even if Vegas sees them as a favorite).
— Devine Redding, Indiana RB: Everyone knows about the tough matchup Maryland will have against Jordan Howard after what he did to the supposedly strong Michigan defense last week. Few are paying attention to the other hand though, and that is Redding. He’s no slouch himself, as the sophomore has 511 yards and seven touchdowns as the secondary back behind Howard. He’s a great change of look and given Maryland’s bad rushing defense, he could have a field day catching the Terps off guard after Howard pounds them in to submission.
4 Bold Prognostications:
— Maryland Will Play Just Two Quarterbacks: Here’s the reality, Maryland’s season-long obsession with playing musical chairs at quarterback hurts them more than opponents. Perry Hills gets the most out of what he can bring to the table, leading this team in rushing and trying his best in the pass game. However, when this team gets behind in a big way his game just doesn’t work in 2015. We’ve seen both Caleb Rowe and Shane Cockerille take snaps in the same game as Hills plenty of times. This time, Maryland will stick with the Hills-Rowe rotation as needed.
— Devine Redding Will Take Season Lead in Rushing TD’s at Indiana: Few realize that Redding is sitting just two touchdowns behind Jordan Howard (9) on the season. While Howard is the best home-run threat in the Big Ten, Redding has done well in mopping up those runs that don’t get in the end zone. Look for a three-touchdown day from Redding at at least a tie, if not a lead in rushing touchdowns ahead of the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.
— Levern Jacobs Won’t Catch a Pass: So? Well, it is kind of a big deal for the Terps offense to get the elder Jacobs brother going. He’s caught a pass in 12 straight games and has a team-best 31 receptions on the season. Jacobs against Indiana’s pass defense? How does he not get a catch? This is the time the Hoosiers step up against an opposing passing attack and Jacobs is blanketed all day long.
— Nate Sudfeld Passes for Over 300 Yards: Again, So? It seems like this is commonplace for the senior signal caller, but it actually isn’t all that commonplace. The truth is, Sudfeld has hit for over 300 yards passing just four times this season. Additionally, he hasn’t had it happen in two weeks. Maryland’s defense is ripe for the picking outside of William Likely and that means a return to 300-yard passing for the leading passer in Big Ten football (272.1 yards per game).
5 Staff Predictions:
Andy: Indiana 41-24 (78-20 overall; 46-51 ATS)
Dave: Indiana 45-24 (81-17 overall; 51-45 ATS)
Greg: Indiana 37-31 (74-26 overall; 54-42 ATS)
Matt: Indiana 45-38 (79-19 overall; 56-40 ATS)
Phil: Indiana 34-27 (33-12 overall; 15-27 ATS) *joined in Week 5