It’s Big Ten season for Minnesota, and the Gophers will open the conference schedule against Maryland on Saturday. This is exactly how the 2017 campaign began for Minnesota, i.e. a 3-0 record and a Big Ten opener against Maryland. The Gophers lost that game 31-24 even though the Terps had to play a third-string quarterback. Let’s hope the outcome is very different in 2018.
The Gophers are not favored to win, but that’s mostly because Maryland is at home.
So what’s happening in College Park?
Goodness, where do we start? First, there are problems much greater than mere football at Maryland these days. Today, the school’s Board of Regents will meet to discuss the school’s investigation into Jordan McNair’s tragic death. This is separate from a second investigation into Maryland’s “toxic culture” problem.
The situation on the field isn’t that much better right now.
- Maryland is now 2-1 after early wins over Texas and Bowling Green and then a shocking 35-24 loss to Temple.
- The Owls basically sold out to stop the run, and Maryland’s stymied offense couldn’t get going in the passing game either.
- Maryland’s vaunted rushing attack only managed 50 yards on the ground through much of the game, and the entire offense only got 195 yards total. Quarterback Kasim Hill was just 7-of-17 for 56 yards.
- The Terps never entered the red zone and didn’t score a single point on offense.
- What about the defense then? Well, it wasn’t terrible. Darnell Savage, Jr. returned an interception for the Terps’ only score of the first half.
- Afterwards, interim head coach Matt Canada took some responsibility:
Everything we did was bad. I called every play and I should’ve called a whole bunch of different ones because they didn’t work. So ultimately, that’s it. I did a bad job.
Which Maryland will show up against Minnesota?
- Maryland is super distracted right now, given the aforementioned investigations and BoR meeting.
- There’s a bit of nonsense here about how Maryland really needs to win the crossover games in the weak Big Ten West so they can compete better in the stacked Big Ten East.
- The Maryland offense against the Gophers defense gives Minnesota the clear edge. The Gophers’ secondary is currently among the best in the country while Maryland’s passing game is among the worst.
- On the other hand, Maryland is also no slouch on defense, with safety Savage drawing comparisons to Antoine Winfield, Jr. from PJ Fleck himself. With Zack Annexstad maybe not 100%, Maryland’s defense could be the difference in this ball game.
On paper, Maryland is the slightly better team, but as last year’s game proved, the paper is useless here. It would be better for the Gophers if the Terps look like they did against Temple on Saturday.