A vaunted defense and a breakout star at quarterback are set for a Friday night showdown as No. 5 Iowa takes to the road to face Maryland in a game between unbeaten Big Ten squads. The Terrapins are off to a hot start behind the passing of Taulia Tagovailoa as he quickly climbs the Heisman charts, but they will be tested greatly by an Iowa defense that is third-best nationally in yards allowed per play.
The last time these teams met was back in 2018 when the Hawkeyes blanked Maryland 23-0 as the Terrapins generated just 115 total yards with only 47 through the air. But when Maryland coach Mike Locksley arrived from Alabama ahead of the 2019 season, the former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator brought some offense with him. Tagovailoa transferred in from Alabama for the 2020 season, and now in his second year as the starter has led the program to its first 4-0 start since 2016.
Maryland hasn't posted a winning record in Big Ten play since joining the league for the 2014 season, however, and Iowa looks like a team capable of challenging for a conference title. With a trip to No. 11 Ohio State up next week, the Terrapins are about to discover how strong they truly are.
Iowa vs. Maryland: Need to know
Turnovers are Iowa's lifeblood: Iowa is tied for second nationally in points off turnovers with 51 through four games and tied for first in defensive touchdowns with three. Takeaways have sustained the Hawkeyes. They trailed Colorado State 14-7 in the third quarter last week before Yahya Black forced a fumble that Jack Campbell fell on at the Rams' 6-yard line. Iowa scored on the next play and never relinquished the momentum en route to a 24-14 win.
Taulia Tagovailoa's rising stardom: The younger brother of former Alabama star and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is making a name for himself at the same position. The former four-star prospect is leading the Big Ten with 1,340 yards passing and a 75.5% completion mark. After throwing seven interceptions in four games last season, he's thrown just one in four games this year. His favorite target is senior receiver Dontay Demus, a 6-foot-4 senior who ranks second in the league with 446 yards receiving.
Iowa in rare air: In its 23rd season under coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has been among the nation's most consistent teams this century. But this is the first time since 2002 the Hawkeyes have spent three straight weeks in the top five of the AP Top 25. The 2015 team, which played in the Rose Bowl, reached No. 3 late in the season and spent two weeks in the top five before dropping to No. 6 following a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Wins in the first two weeks of this season over then-No. 17 Indiana and then-No. 9 Iowa State have inserted the Hawkeyes into the top five earlier than ever before under Ferentz.
How to watch Iowa vs. Maryland live
Date: Friday, Oct. 1 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Maryland Stadium -- College Park, Maryland
TV: FS1 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Iowa vs. Maryland prediction, picks
Iowa will eventually need more from its offense if it is going to win a Big Ten title and compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but the Hawkeyes' defense is elite enough to carry the team to a victory here. This Iowa squad isn't the type to allow garbage time touchdowns, so it should cover this spread. Prediction: Iowa (-3.5)
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