Maryland enters their first B1G conference game with a 3-1 record, and is looking to win their second consecutive road game as they travel to Bloomington, IN to take on the Hoosiers.
Maryland's special teams will decide the game
We've talked a lot about Maryland's special teams play, which ranks 2nd nationally in terms of team efficiencies, providing Maryland 7.86 points per game so far this season. With Indiana and Maryland very close in a lot of different statistical categories, a big Maryland special teams play could, and in this case I think will, be the deciding factor in this game. Whether it's another blocked kick or a punt or kickoff return for a TD or a last second field goal, this unit will once again have a big impact on the game. A more specific, bold prediction about the special teams in the final prediction, below.
The defense will once again bend, but won't break
One thing Maryland's defense has done this year is allow a lot of yardage from the opposition. As a fan, it's obviously something you don't particularly want to see, but when you look at the Terps' defensive efficiency, they actually rank 33rd nationally, contributing 4.81 points per game to Maryland's scoring margin. Why is that significant?
Maryland ranks 105th in yards allowed per game, but to date, they're making up for that yardage allowed in other ways. In other words, looking at yardage allowed isn't necessarily the most efficient way to rank or grade a defense.Obviously yardage allowed is important, but it shouldn't be the thing you focus all of your attention on. Take a team like Indiana, which ranks 85th nationally in yardage allowed per game. Then look at their defensive efficiency ranking, which places them at 80th, costing their team on average 4.35 points per game. So while they're allowing about 47 less yards per game than Maryland, Indiana's defense isn't impacting the score in the same positive way as the Terps' defense.
Maryland will win their first ever B1G conference game
Indiana has a great running back in Tevon Coleman, who has five consecutive 100+ yard rushing games. They also run a quick, up tempo offense, based off of Mike Leach's Air Raid style. Indiana also is coming off a big upset win over #18 Missouri last week. But Maryland's ability to force turnovers, the home run threat of their special teams play, and the improvement of the passing game all lead to a victory for the Terps, as Brad Craddock kicks the game winning field goal. Could I be blinded by Maryland Pride homerism? Possibly. But I think Maryland's B1G play potential gives them the edge.