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Maryland football vs. Indiana preview: Terps look to gain bowl-eligibility in Bloomington

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After this, things are gonna get a whole lot tougher.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Northwestern Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

After beating Michigan State last week, Maryland football travels to Indiana this weekend for a chance to clinch bowl-eligibility. The Terps’ final game of the season against Rutgers projects to be a win, but they play Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska before then. Indiana isn’t on the same level as those teams, and a win on Saturday would put Maryland on track to get seven wins in DJ Durkin’s first season as a head coach.

But it won’t be simple. Vegas favors Indiana, as do most statistical projections.

The Hoosiers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, as their season outlook has looked considerably less peachy since they opened Big Ten play with a win over Michigan State. Since then, they’ve dropped games to Ohio State and Nebraska, two of the best teams in the Big Ten, and Northwestern, a very average team.

This game kicks off at 3:30 in Bloomington, with Eamon McAnaney and John Congemi calling the action on ESPNU.

Indiana Hoosiers (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten)

2015 record: 6-7

Head coach: Kevin Wilson

All-time record vs. Maryland: 1-3

F/+ ranking: 53 (Maryland is 61)

Five-year recruiting ranking: 55 (11 in Big Ten)

Players to watch

Richard Lagow, QB, junior, 5'10/208, No. 21. Lagow’s replacing Nate Sudfeld, who’s moved on to greener pastures. He’s been a solid replacement so far, beating out Zander Diamont and Danny Cameron for the job this fall. He’s been turnover-prone though, throwing 11 interceptions to 12 touchdowns.

Nick Westbrook, WR, sophomore, 6'3, 213, No. 15. He’s Indiana’s leading receiver, averaging 18.8 yards per catch on 30 receptions this season, with four touchdowns. He’s a danger after the catch, and could be a threat to Maryland’s depleted secondary.

Devine Redding, RB, junior, 5'10/208, No. 34. Indiana’s rushing attack isn’t particularly great, but Redding is the face of it.

Terry Scales, LB, junior, 6'0/230, No. 8. Scales leads the team in tackles with 58, including 10 for loss and two sacks. He also had one interception and two pass break-ups. He jumps off the stat sheet immediately.

Rashard Fant, CB, junior, 5'10/175, No. 16. He’s been a force in Indiana’s secondary, accumulating 13 pass break-ups this season. Maryland will have a tough time against him.

Marcelino Ball, S, freshman, 6'0/210, No. 42. This freshman came on strong, and he’s third on the team in tackles to go along with five pass break-ups.

Strengths

Passing game. The Hoosiers rank 21st in the nation in passing efficiency, according to Bill Connelly’s metrics. Lagow’s helming a respectable passing game, but his aforementioned interceptions are worrisome.

Explosiveness. Indiana’s good at getting big plays, mostly through the air. The Hoosiers rank 30th in passing explosiveness and 65th in rushing explosiveness by Connelly’s metrics, and that would seem to project a favorable matchup for Maryland, which has been very good at limiting big pass plays.

Weaknesses

Running attack. Indiana ranks 101st in rushing efficiency, per Connelly’s metrics. Redding averages 4.4 yards per carry and the offensive line ranks 25th in adjusted line yards, but that hasn’t added up to an effective run game.

Finishing drives. Once the Hoosiers get inside opponents’ 40-yard line, they don’t do too well. They rank 125th in the nation in points per trip inside the 40, which is a great way to lose a lot of games. Maryland’s defense, meanwhile, is 27th in that same category.

Predictions

S&P+’s prediction: Indiana 30.2, Maryland 23.7. The Terps have a 35 percent chance of winning.

Ryan’s prediction: Indiana 27, Maryland 24.