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Purdue at Maryland Preview

The Terps bring a solid offense to bear against Purdue.

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

The Boiler victory over Minnesota this past weekend has renewed excitement for the season. Purdue knocked off the perceived toughest team in the division. Now, with a win at Maryland it is primed for a run at the West crown despite the loss to Penn State. Let’s be honest: The West is not great this year. The perceived “best” team in it is going to change week by week. Should Purdue beat Maryland we might very well take that mantle. A loss and it goes to Illinois.

Even if Purdue loses to Maryland it is not out of the West race. Everyone else already has a loss, and since Purdue still must play five of the other six teams (and it holds a tiebreaker over Minnesota) we would only a second Gopher loss to control our path to Indy.

On paper this looks like a dead even game. It should be an exciting one with lots of offense.

Maryland Terrapins

2021 Record: 7-6, 3-6 Big Ten

2022 Record: 4-1, 1-1 Big Ten

Bowl Result: Beat Virginia Tech 54-10 in Pinstripe Bowl

Blog Representation: Testudo Times

Series with Purdue: Marylands leads 2-1

Last Purdue win: 40-14 at Purdue on 10/12/2019

Last Maryland win: 50-7 at Maryland on 10/1/2016

Head Coach: Mike Locksley (17-24 in 4 year at Maryland, 19-50 overall)

The Terrapins’ Season Thus Far:

The Terps have been solid so far. They won by multiple scores over Buffalo and Charlotte, then beat a pretty solid SMU team 34-27 for their best non-conference win. In week four they turned some heads by going to Michigan and playing the Wolverines to a close game in a 34-27 loss. Last week they were dominant defensively in the second half against Michigan State, breaking away from a 14-13 game just before halftime to earn a 27-13 win.

This is a strong offensive team. Their passing attack ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State. Last week they were strong on the ground too, rushing for 175 yards. This is a team averaging 35 points per game while putting up almost 500 yards off offense. An encouraging sign is that their numbers are almost identical to Minnesota’s.

Who to Watch on Offense

Taulia Tagovailoa – QB – It has been a great season for the junior quarterback. He is second in the Big Ten with 1,416 yards passing, but he has been a bit wild. He only has 8 TDs to 4 interceptions. He can be elusive on the ground though. He has 92 yards rushing with a touchdown. He is still completing 76% of his passes, so his ability to move the ball through the air will probably give our secondary its toughest test yet. He also spreads the ball around well with six different players having at least 12 catches.

Rakim Jarrett – WR – Jarrett had over 800 yards receiving last season and this year he has 20 catches for 249 yards and 2 scores. While Purdue has had a large number of receptions got to Charlie Jones, Jarrett is part of a three-headed monster with Jeshaun Jones and tight end Corey Dyches.

Roman Hemby – RB – Hemby has been a solid 1A for the Terps out of the backfield. He has a team high 369 yards on the ground with 2 touchdowns. Antain Littleton II has also been good with 267 yards and six touchdowns. They are a great duo that can either break a big run or finish drives in the red zone with efficiency.

The passing offense is one of the best in the nation, rating 19th. By comparison, Purdue’s passing offense rates 28th. They are far from one-dimensional though. It is a diverse offense that can move the ball in a number of ways. If they get loose, they can put up a lot of points.

Who to Watch on Defense

Beau Brade – DB – Brade has been excellent so far with a team high 40 tackles. He also has 4 passes defensed and an interception. He is in his first year as a full-time starter and had a big game against SMU with an interception and a forced fumble. Most reports have had him as a surprise so far, but he is a very welcome one for the defense. Only he and Dante Trader Jr. have an interception so far.

Jaishawn Barham – LB – Barham is second on the team with 30 tackles and a sack. That is pretty good for a guy who is only a freshman. He also had a very big game against SMU with 13 tackles. He is quickly growing into one of the leaders of the defense.

Ahmad McCullough – LB – McCullough is a senior who is having the best season of his career so far with 24 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries. He had a career high 8 tackles against Michigan State last week and helped the Terps pitch a second half shutout.

Purdue should have an easier time moving the ball this week. Minnesota still statistically has the best defense in the conference at 222 yards per game. Maryland’s defense is far worse at 11th in the league, giving up 392 yards per game. They only gave up 13 points last week to Michigan State, but Michigan State might be really bad. SMU is a better comparison, and the Mustangs made it quite a game for most of the night. Maryland also committed 15 penalties against SMU, so get ready for a lot of flags.

Who to Watch on Special Teams

Colton Spangler – P – Spangler has punted 16 times for a very impressive 48-yard average. Seven of those punts have been downed inside the 20, making him a good weapon.

Chad Ryland – K – Ryland is a solid 7 of 8 on the season on field goals with a long of 53, but he should be familiar to Purdue fans. He is in his fifth year thanks to the COVID year, and he used to transfer in from Eastern Michigan. As a freshman in 2018 he hit the game-winning field goal as time expired against Purdue.

Game Outlook

This one should be interesting. Maryland is probably the fourth best team in the East after beating Michigan State. They will be favored to beat Indiana and Rutgers later on, but they still have to play two of the big three in Ohio State and Penn State. Given that they gave Michigan a game, an upset of Penn State wouldn’t shock me. They also still get Northwestern and Wisconsin in the West, so this can be an eight win team or more.

It won’t be easy. Both offenses can move the ball, but so far Purdue has had the better defense. Purdue was very impressive in shutting down an excellent Minnesota running game last week. We were also impressive in having at least some semblance of a ground game.

I feel like if Purdue can replicate its performance at Minnesota with an improved Aidan O’Connell we should be able to come away with a win. I still remember that this team has struggled with penalties and self-inflicted wounds, however. That’s more than enough to give me pause on claiming victory early.