Maryland football had a bye week before its Big Ten opener against Purdue, but there’s much we can learn from watching what the rest of the conference did on Saturday.
This early in the season, one game can have a huge impact on how we perceive each team. So it’s important to view every game in context and not take too much away from any one week. Keeping that in mind, here’s what happened in each Big Ten game on Saturday, and what it means for Maryland.
Michigan 49, Penn State 10
At 2-2, Penn State is still looking at least a little bit vulnerable ahead of its matchup with Maryland in two weeks. A victory at Penn State would be a huge feather in DJ Durkin’s cap as a first-year head coach, and the Nittany Lions were punchless against Michigan. Michigan appears to be an unstoppable force so far this season, and we don’t have any reason to think otherwise after this win. It’s tough to judge Penn State here because Michigan is so damn good, but it’s looking more and more like the Terps’ trip to State College in two weeks could be somewhat of a game.
To be clear, Maryland fans should be rooting the Terps’ opponents to not be very good in 2016. It doesn’t matter what the team’s strength of schedule is as long as Maryland gets into a bowl game.
Wake Forest 33, Indiana 28
Indiana looked like a tougher challenge than a lot of people probably realized going into the season, but this performance would seem to bring the Hoosiers closer down to Maryland’s level. S&P+ gave Maryland a 44 percent chance to beat Indiana before this weekend. Even if Wake Forest isn’t bad, that number figures to go up. The Terps play in Bloomington on Oct. 29.
Purdue 24, Nevada 14
Here’s what we learned from this game: Purdue is still not very good. Nevada is worse. This game was not particularly pretty, and next weekend’s might not be either.
Wisconsin 30, Michigan State 6
The Badgers look like they’re here to stay, and Maryland’s probably glad it doesn’t play them this season. The Terps do play Michigan State, but the Spartans are probably still pretty good. This doesn’t mean much for Maryland yet, but let’s stay tuned and see how the Spartans play these next few weeks.
Minnesota 31, Colorado State 24
Maryland plays Minnesota right after Penn State. S&P+ also gives the Terps a 44 percent chance against the Gophers, and that could increase after this week too. This was an encouraging sign for Maryland’s hopes of winning that game. Colorado State is not an impressive opponent, but Minnesota is 3-0. The Gophers open Big Ten play against Penn State next week, and that game will be a barometer for both teams.
Iowa 14, Rutgers 7
This game doesn’t affect Maryland too much. Rutgers did keep things much closer than expected, but it’s tough to know what this means. Maryland fans will want to keep track of Rutgers because there’s a very likely scenario where it is the team standing between Maryland and bowl eligibility.
Nebraska 24, Northwestern 13
We all expected the Huskers to beat the Wildcats by a little more, but Nebraska is still a scary Week 11 opponent for the Terps, especially in Lincoln.