It might not feel this way, but the Maryland football team's win against Indiana on Saturday was its fifth consecutive road win. Dating back to last Nov. 16, the Terps have won on the home fields of Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, South Florida, Syracuse and, now, Indiana. Winning away from Byrd Stadium has never exactly been a part of the identity of Randy Edsall's Maryland teams, but perhaps the Terps have hit their stride on the open road. That can't hurt ahead of trips to Ann Arbor and State College, among other Big Ten destinations. But all of that is now merely on the horizon.
What we saw last week:
Dual threats under center. Both C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe were strong against the Hoosiers. Combined, they completed 22 of 33 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns through the air, plus a rushing score from Brown. The starter, Brown, suffered an apparent left wrist injury near the end of the first half and never returned, but Rowe picked up the ball and played just as well. Rowe was slinging the ball all over the field and doing it efficiently. Brown was mixing some nice passes with smart option reads to open up Maryland's running game. Both played well enough that Maryland should feel comfortable at quarterback next week, no matter Brown's status.
Drastically improved run defense. The Terps gave up almost 400 rushing yards against Syracuse. The rush defense wasn't, on the whole, great against Indiana, but it was a lot better than many expected or it otherwise could have been. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman had set fire to every defense he'd seen in the Hoosiers' first three games, and the Terps held him to 122 yards on 22 carries. Forty-three of those yards came on one carry in the second half when the game was already out of hand, and Coleman's 5.5-yard average was a full three yards less than his seasonal rate coming in. Overall, Maryland allowed 206 yards on 47 carries, which was completely fine given the way the game unfolded. Inside linebacker Cole Farrand was critical for Maryland, racking up 19 tackles and wreaking havoc on Coleman and Indiana's other runners all afternoon.
Big-time days for big-time players. In this space last week, we noted that Deon Long and Stefon Diggs hadn't been especially involved in the receiving game, at least not to anywhere near their potentials. Maryland has said time and time again that defensive coverage dictate to whom passes are targeted, but it was still odd to see small stat lines from Maryland's two most talented playmakers. This week, that wasn't an issue. Diggs and Long exploited a suspect Indiana secondary to the tune of 16 catches, 220 yards and a touchdown. That, most certainly, will do.
What we're looking for this week:
Stepping up in the secondary. Braxton Miller isn't playing this season, but his backup at quarterback is no slouch. Freshman J.T. Barrett gets a lot of attention for his ability to take off with the ball, but he's thrown it well, too. Barrett has completed 64 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards already, with a 13-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He averages almost 9.88 yards per attempt (interestingly, the same exact figure as Rowe's) and is a polished passer for a freshman. This is Ohio State, so Barrett has some fine receivers at his disposal, too. The Buckeyes are a running team, but Will Likely and the Maryland secondary will need to keep a lid on their passing attack.
A heavy dose of Ross. Maryland's backfield has always been crowded, but Brandon Ross seems primed to distinguish himself as the Terps' clear No. 1 running back going forward. Ross ran six times for 61 yards against Indiana and took his only catch 36 yards for a touchdown, bringing him to almost 100 yards from scrimmage on seven touches. On option plays, he was a good outlet for Brown and ripped off some big gains on late pitches. He was also better in pass-protection this week than he was against Syracuse, when missed blocks of his contributed to two sacks. With Albert Reid's status uncertain, Jacquille Veii technically still a receiver and Wes Brown working his way back after a year away from the team, Ross should continue to get chances to thrive.
An electric Byrd Stadium. The ingredients are all there for this to be a special Saturday inside Byrd Stadium. Ohio State generally travels well, and Maryland fans should have no problem showing up for the Terps' first home game in their new conference against one of college football's greatest programs. The Terps are 4-1 and got some top-25 votes this week, and an upset here could be a springboard for national recognition and a helpful recruiting bump. We can't know if every bleacher seat will be filled, but the crowd should be big, and it will definitely be loud. A national TV audience should be staring at a fun scene in College Park.