Two teams that began the 2021 college football season with high hopes will meet in Maryland Stadium on Saturday, desperate to turn their respective seasons around. With Halloween just around the corner, it is fair to say that this season has been more "trick" than "treat" for both Indiana and Maryland.
Indiana (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten) is coming off a brutal 54-7 home loss to Ohio State. Indiana actually began the game strongly, marching down the field to tie the game at 7-7. It was on that touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Tuttle to tight end Peyton Hendershot that everything quickly unraveled, as Tuttle was injured during the play and was essentially knocked out of the game. For the remainder of the game, Indiana tried to rely upon true freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley (1-for-6, 30 yards) and sophomore backup quarterback Grant Gremel (3-for-4, 9 yards) but was unable to generate anything offensively.
Indiana head coach recognizes the challenges of the season. Said head coach Tom Allen after the loss to Ohio State, "... It's about accountability, toughness, and love when things are going your way and when things are not. And right now, the injuries continue to mount. And the disappointments have continued. And so you've got to be able to fall back on who you are and what you are made of internally. And so that accountability and that toughness is paramount at this point. So that isn't going to change. As tough as tonight was, it's one that we just have to put in the trash and press on."
Maryland began the season 4-0 but is in the midst of a three-game losing streak that has seen the Terrapins outscored 151-47. That comes out to an average score of 50-16.
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is eager to get the Terrapins back to their winning ways, after being blown out for three consecutive games. Regarding preparations for Indiana coming into Maryland Stadium, Locksley said, "I think it just starts with the accountability piece. And that's everybody. I mean, not just the team, I'm talking coaches, and talking the staff. You know, at some point, as I say, pride becomes a big part of it. And I'm pretty prideful as a person. And in terms of the leadership that I provide, and everybody needs to really take a deep look into themselves and make sure that you're doing everything you can in your power to prepare and give yourself a chance to win on Saturday."
Indiana at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 30 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Maryland -5.5
When Indiana Has the Ball
More than likely, Tuttle will not be able to play in this game. Indiana may alternate McCulley and Gremel at quarterback, to see which player is able to move the offense.
Indiana struggled with running the ball immensely versus Ohio State, rushing 37 times for 48 yards as a team, averaging 1.3 yards per carry. Granted, sacks by Ohio State adversely affected the rushing total, as the Buckeyes were able to repeatedly sack whichever quarterback Indiana was playing. Nonetheless, for inexperienced quarterbacks, it may behoove the Hoosiers to try to get their running game going. McCulley is a dual-threat option at quarterback and may be called upon with designed quarterback runs.
Maryland is smarting from its last game, a 34-16 loss at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were able to rush for 326 yards against the Terrapins. With Indiana struggling at the quarterback position, look for Maryland to stack the box and clamp down on what may be Indiana's best offensive strategy.
When Maryland Has The Ball
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had a decent game at Minnesota, completing 17 passes on 27 attempts for 189 yards and a touchdown. What is hurting the Terrapins is what is also afflicting the Hoosiers — the lack of a strong running game. Maryland rushed for only 79 yards against Minnesota and is averaging 128 yards per game on the ground. Maryland will probably try to get its passing game going against Indiana, but the Terrapins will need to establish some semblance of a running game to keep the Hoosiers honest.
Even in defeat, Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden had an impressive outing versus the Buckeyes. McFadden had six tackles, one sack, and three tackles for loss. Look for McFadden to be around the ball whenever Maryland is on offense.
Both teams are sputtering and are eager for a victory. Indiana's injuries and lack of offense are severely impacting the team's success. Even though Maryland is coming off three straight losses, look for the Terrapins to get back on the winning side of the ledger as they try to get enough wins for bowl eligibility.
Prediction: Maryland 24, Indiana 10
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— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for Buckeye Scoop. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.