The Maryland football team lost at Iowa on Saturday, 31-15, in Mike Locksley's second game as the program's interim head coach.
Maryland quarterback Perry Hills ran for 104 yards, and Will Likely had a 100-plus-yard kickoff return touchdown. The Terps averaged an impressive 4.9 yards per carry against a stout defense, but turnovers hindered them as they have all season. Hills threw three interceptions, and Maryland also lost a fumble. Iowa out-gained Maryland, 293 yards to 241, despite the Terps taking a 173-53 edge in the second half.
The Terps are now 2-6, still winless in Big Ten play and against all ranked opponents since 2010. They will host Wisconsin next weekend in a homecoming tilt at Byrd Stadium. A loss in that game will officially eliminate Maryland from bowl contention before the year even reaches the home stretch.
The first few plays of the game were actually pretty good. Maryland got a defensive stop and a missed field goal on Iowa's first drive, then ran a successful three plays on offense before Brandon Ross fumbled the ball away to Iowa. The Hawkeyes immediately marched downfield to score, and Maryland was never competitive again.
The Hawkeyes build their lead brick-by-brick, and a blocked punt set up a Derrick Mitchell Jr. touchdown to make the game 21-0 just before halftime. The opening 30 minutes were so gruesome that Maryland's best play was arguably this:
By the time the second half started, the game was already well in hand for Iowa. The Terps mounted a bit of a drive at the start of the third quarter, but their 10-play, 53-yard march stalled when a delay-of-game flag on fourth down forced them to punt. The Terps started their next drive inside midfield, then Hills threw an ugly interception to Maryland native Jordan Lomax.
Maryland finally got on the board with a Hills touchdown strike to Taivon Jacobs just after the start of the final quarter. The Terps had a chance to get within 10 points later in the frame, but a Hills pick-six to Desmond King snuffed out whatever minute chance Maryland might have had. Will Likely returned the ensuing kickoff more than 100 yards for a touchdown and got the ball back within two scores in the last five minutes. But Locksley opted to punt on fourth down-and-4, and that decision sealed Maryland's loss once and for all.
Three things to know
1. The Terps ran on Iowa and still couldn't score. The Hawkeyes entered with the No. 9 defense in the country by S&P+, including the No. 6 rush defense. Maryland's offense continued to excel on the ground, as Hills went over 100 yards and the team averaged 4.9 yards per rush against a team that had been allowing 2.4. But Hills's three interceptions were ultimately crippling. Maryland has thrown an outrageous 23 interceptions this season, worst in the country.
2. Maryland still can't beat good teams. Maryland's one-point loss to Penn State last weekend was a breath of fresh air from its earlier trend of getting absolutely disemboweled against other Big Ten teams. Iowa is good, as are West Virginia, Michigan and Ohio State. But it's nonetheless discouraging that Maryland can't closely compete with any of these teams.
3. Maryland is now playing for pride. The Terps need to win out in their final four games to attain bowl eligibility. By S&P+ projections, the odds of that happening are about 5.3 percent, and they'll probably be lower after statistical profiles are updated on Monday. The Terps are playing out the string from this point forward, and that's not an easy thing to swallow with still a full third of the season left to go. College football is cyclical, and Maryland was always likely to have a down year.