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Maryland football heads to Nebraska after back-to-back blowout losses

Our weekly outlook on the Maryland football program.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football lost by 59 points to Ohio State in College Park on Saturday. The 62-3 loss to the Buckeyes followed up a 59-3 drubbing by Michigan. The Terps have lost three straight games, and five of their last six, to fall to 5-5 on the season.

This isn’t exactly a surprise, as Maryland’s last six opponents are all several steps better than its first four. But the way it’s happened is a little disheartening. The Terps looked fantastic in their 4-0 start and were favored at Penn State—which, in retrospect, is probably the dumbest thing that’s happened this college football season—before emphatically plunging back to Earth.

Maryland looks really bad, but certainly at least part of that is due to playing two of the country’s best teams. There are two weeks left in the regular season, and the Terps can hang with Rutgers even on a bad day, so this weekend’s matchup against Nebraska is a chance for DJ Durkin’s crew to get going in the right direction.

Maryland vs. Ohio State - what we saw

1. The pass offense struggled. Perry Hills was on the field for a pair of three-and-outs before injuring the shoulder that wasn’t the shoulder that’s given him problems all year. Caleb Rowe played the rest of the first half and Tyrrell Pigrome played the second half; save for Rowe’s first drive, which ended in a field goal, neither one was able to get much of anything going. The Terps threw for 133 yards on the day, and 72 of those came on their lone scoring drive in the first quarter.

2. The rush offense struggled. Maryland picked up just 43 yards on 41 rushes for a dismal average of 1.1 yards per carry. Freshman Lorenzo Harrison was suspended indefinitely shortly before the game, which didn’t help, but the Terps struggled across the board. Maryland’s longest run of the entire game was Pigrome’s 11-yard scramble in the fourth quarter—and that play was essentially negated by Jake Funk’s unnecessary roughness penalty after the whistle.

3. The whole defense struggled. Ohio State finished with 581 yards, the third straight time Maryland allowed at least that many. J.T. Barrett had open receivers all night, and the Terps couldn’t stop Mike Weber and friends on the ground. It’s an all-too-familiar story for the Maryland defense, which is injury-ravaged, inexperienced and overmatched.

Maryland vs. Nebraska - what we’re expecting

1. Tommy Armstrong should go off. He’s a pretty good thrower and an excellent running quarterback, which spells real trouble for Maryland. Both Wilton Speight and Barrett had brilliant days against the Terps, and while Armstrong’s numbers aren’t superb this year, he’s explosive enough to burn this defense.

2. The Terps will need some big plays. The way to upset good teams like Nebraska is, in essence, to get lucky. It takes key plays at the right times. Fortunately for Maryland, the Huskers’ ground defense is susceptible to allowing the big play (122nd in S&P+ entering this weekend), which plays into Ty Johnson’s hands. Nebraska’s pass defense is better in this aspect, and Maryland struggles airing the ball out.

3. Maryland’s quarterback situation won’t be clear until gametime. All season long, it’s been Perry Hills’ job as long as he’s healthy. That probably won’t change this week, but considering he’s now suffered injuries to both shoulders and left two straight games with injuries, there’s not much reason to be confident in his health. Hills or Rowe or Pigrome could all start on Saturday, but we won’t know (and the coaches probably won’t know) until the Terps break the huddle.