No. 5 Iowa and Maryland will help kick off the college football weekend with a battle of undefeated Big Ten teams Friday night in College Park, Md.
Iowa (4-0, 1-0) had to rally from a halftime deficit to beat Colorado State 24-14 last Saturday, retaining its top-five ranking in the Associated Press poll. The Terrapins (4-0, 1-0) are lurking just outside the Top 25, with 91 votes from voters this week, which was 27th.
Coach Kirk Ferentz won’t be caught looking ahead to the Hawkeyes’ next game against No. 4 Penn State.
“Certainly a tough challenge on a lot of levels,” Ferentz said. “It’s a short week, we’re playing a night game and being on the road and playing a Big Ten opponent. The biggest component right here, right now, is the fact that we’re playing a good Big Ten football team no matter where it is.”
Iowa will take comfort in the fact that it owns the third-best scoring defense in the country, allowing 11 points per game and leading the conference with six interceptions.
Linebacker Jack Campbell racked up a career-high 18 tackles and a fumble recovery against Colorado State. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and received the honor of Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week.
“He’s got unusual size for a linebacker,” Ferentz said. “Like most good players at most positions, they just have a mindset that allows them to really go. He does things just at one tempo, basically, all the time. … He’s really focused, he’s very coachable and boy, he goes hard.”
Maryland has yet to face a defense as tough as Iowa. Then again, Iowa arguably hasn’t met an offense as explosive as that of Maryland.
Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is the Big Ten’s leading passer in both yards (1,340) and completion percentage (75.5). He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and only one interception. Ferentz highlighted Tagovailoa’s mobility, saying he gets out of the pocket “with ease.”
“But like a good quarterback, he’s looking down the field when he gets out there,” Ferentz said. “He will run it, but he’s trying to make a play and that’s really scary how they force you to stay back in coverage when he’s broken contain, and that’s a dilemma for any defensive player.”
A Maryland upset victory Friday would mark the program’s first win over a top-10 team since 2007. It would appear on paper that the Terrapins are entering the game on a roll, given their 37-16 victory over Kent State last week, but on Tuesday coach Mike Locksley reiterated his belief that his team did not play up to its standard — committing nine penalties for 120 yards and turning the ball over twice.
“As I told our team, it’s good for me to see the disappointment that they had in not playing up to the standard that we set, because it means they’re listening and it means that they care,” Locksley said.
Iowa and Maryland have played only three times since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014, and they last met in 2018. The Hawkeyes lead the series 2-1.
–Field Level Media