Well, folks, we're almost there. Maryland football has had the toughest schedule in the nation this year, and the Terps are finally through the gauntlet, albeit at 2-8. After facing No. 12 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State, the Terps take on Indiana this Saturday in a game they legitimately have a shot of winning.
Maryland's seniors enter Saturday ready to play their last game at Byrd Stadium. A victory this weekend would be Maryland's first Big Ten win of the season and would snap a seven-game losing streak for the Terrapins.
Indiana is 4-6 this year, but there's not such thing as a cupcake opponent for a 2-8 team like Maryland. The Hoosiers have some impressive performances on their resume, taking Michigan to double overtime last week before ultimately losing 48-41, and only losing to Ohio State by a touchdown back in October. However, they also lost to Rutgers 55-52. Rutgers! The Scarlet Knights have placed in the bottom 10 percent in terms of percentile performance three times this season, something Maryland hasn't done once. So the Terps have a chance.
You can watch the game at noon on BTN or stream it at BTN2go.
Indiana Hoosiers (4-6, 0-6 Big Ten)
2014 record: 4-8, 1-7 Big Ten
Head coach: (18-40 overall, all at Indiana)
All-time record vs. Maryland: 2-1
F/+ ranking: 68
5-year recruiting ranking: 55
Players to know
Nate Sudfeld. QB, senior, 6'6/240, No. 7. Sudfeld has been a serviceable option under center for the No. 20 passing attack in the nation, according to S&P+. He only has a 59 percent completion rating, but his 16-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 2.6 percent sack rate are indicative of his solid performance. He may not win the game for Indiana, but he's certainly not going to be the guy who loses it.
Jordan Howard, RB, junior, 6'1/230, No. 8. The transfer from UAB has had the unenviable task of replacing Tevin Coleman at running back for the Hoosiers this season, and he's done a bang-up job so far. Howard leads the Big Ten in rushing yards per game, beating Ezekiel Elliot and Saquon Barkley with a 149.9 average.
Ricky Jones, WR, junior, 5'10/188, No. 4. After only making three receptions last season, Jones has become Sudfeld's top target in 2015. He leads the team in catches, receiving yards, yards per catch and target rate. I imagine he'll get acquainted with Will Likely on Saturday.
Nick Mangieri, DL, SR, 6'5/275, No. 56. After accumulating five sacks in his first three seasons, Mangieri has eight this year. He's become one of the top defensive ends in the country, and joins Yannick Ngakoue on the watch list for the Ted Hendricks award, which goes to the top defensive end in the country.
Rashard Fant. CB, sophomore, 5'10/177, No. 16. He's yet to grab an interception as a college player, but that stat is a little misleading. Fant served as the team's No. 3 corner last season, and after the Hoosiers lost both of their starting corners, he's filled in better than expected. Fant is among the nation's leaders in pass break-ups with 16, and he's fifth on the team in tackles from the corner position.
A consistent passing attack. Indiana ranks 20th in passing S&P+, but only 53rd in IsoPPP, which measures explosiveness. Thee Hoosiers might not beat you with the big play, but they'll get you somehow. This will be a tough test for the Terrapins' secondary, which is coming off of its best performance of the season against Michigan State. The Hoosiers have three players with over 400 yards receiving, so even if Will Likely shuts down Jones, the rest of the Terps' defensive backs will have to show up Saturday.
Offensive line play. Maryland hasn't had a ton of bright spots this season, but Yannick Ngakoue and the team's pass rush have together been one of them. Indiana will be a stiff challenge for the Terps' front seven, as the Hoosiers rank 15th in standard downs sack rate and 21st in passing downs sack rate. Even if it's an obvious passing down, the Terps will have some trouble getting to Sudfeld. That will mean the secondary will have to stay on their marks longer than they'd want to.
Giving up big plays. The Hoosiers rank 120th in the country in defensive IsoPPP, which bodes well for the Terrapins, who need big plays to stay in the game. A long Perry Hills run or a breakaway by D.J. Moore or Likely is exactly what Maryland needs for its extremely inconsistent offense to get on the scoreboard (ideally multiple times).
Defending passing situations. Indiana is prone to giving up plays when the other team is in obvious passing situations. The Hoosiers rank 104th in defensive passing downs S&P+, which may or may not hurt them against the Terrapins. However, Maryland's passing offense is so bad that it might not matter.
S&P+ prediction: Maryland 30.1, Indiana 29.3. 52 percent chance Maryland wins.
Ryan's prediction: Maryland 28, Indiana 25.