Maryland football is only one win away from bowl eligibility before the halfway point of the season after defeating Indiana, 44-17, on Saturday.
The Terps’ first five wins haven’t been perfect, but they put forth their cleanest performance of the season Saturday. Taulia Tagovailoa recorded six total touchdowns, Tai Felton had a career-game with 134 yards and three scores and the defense forced a turnover for the fourth straight game.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game.
Tagovailoa had a Heisman-like performance.
Taulia Tagovailoa is not being sent into the Heisman conversation after torching a lowly Indiana squad. But with his monster performance — 352 passing yards and six total touchdowns — Tagovailoa now leads the Big Ten in both passing yards and passing touchdowns.
“You know, the [receivers] are making plays for me and for the team,” Tagovailoa said.
While matchups against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan are still yet to be played, it’s encouraging to see Tagovailoa have multiple elite performances early in the season.
His throws are more accurate — especially on deep balls — his decision-making seems to have improved immensely from last year, and ultimately, he has led the Terps to their best start in over two decades.
Is this the year that the best statistical quarterback in Maryland history can bring Terps fans glory with a win over one of the three aforementioned teams?
“He’s a talented player and he played really well today,” Locksley said. “He played mistake free football for the most part. How he goes, we go, and he was in rhythm today.”
A dominant 60-minute showing.
The Terps could do little wrong from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, dominating Indiana in all three phases of the game.
When asked what was the key do the game, Tagovailoa said, “Everyone on offense, defense and special teams [was] just doing their job ... taking it one play at a time and executing at a high level.”
After back-to-back slow starts against Charlotte and Virginia, respectively, the Terps have come out of the gates firing on all cylinders in their past two games. But unlike their game against Michigan State, they continued that strong effort into the second half.
Up 27-3 headed into the second half, Maryland didn’t hit the brakes at all, which makes sense following Locksley’s continual message that the team still needs to orchestrate a consistent 60-minute performance.
“This is like one of the first games where we kind of had a complete game,” Felton said. “Coach definitely emphasized that.”
Maryland’s offense couldn’t be stopped, and the defense held its opponent to under 15 points for the third consecutive game.
“When we play as well, we’re unstoppable” said linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II. “Like nobody can really mess with us.”
One of the few things that did go wrong was without fault, as Tarheeb Still was forced to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter.
Teams can never be perfect, but Maryland was close to that Saturday.
A chance to make history
With Saturday’s win, Maryland moved to 5-0 for the first time since 2001. To put that into perspective, each of Testudo Times’ editors — myself, Emmett Siegel and Colin McNamara — were not born when that happened.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in there that’s surprised,” Locksley said of the team’s impressive start.
There have been reasonable questions raised about the Terps’ easy schedule to begin the season, but they’ll have a chance to prove any doubters wrong when they take on Ohio State on the road next weekend in a matchup of unbeatens.
“Ohio State didn’t come up one time this week,” said Locksley. “And to me, that shows the maturity I think that has changed because we always try to say [our opponents are] faceless and nameless.”
While a win in Columbus is improbable, is it impossible? Maryland has taken strides in Locksley’s tenure, but it has also never defeated Ohio State. Next week’s matchup may very well be the biggest game for the program since joining the conference in 2014.
“[Locksley] preaches playing to the standard,” said Tagovailoa. “And I think if we continue to do that, we’ll continue to make history.”