GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. TERRAPINS DEFENSE

Maryland had six sacks against Purdue and three against Penn State. With RT Jonah Pirsig (sprained ankle) out, the Gophers will have challenges protecting inexperienced QB Conor Rhoda. The Terps will try to take away Minnesota’s running game and go after Rhoda on third down. Advantage: Maryland

SPECIAL TEAMS

Emmit Carpenter (9-for-9 on FGs) gives the Gophers a kicking edge, but he and punter Ryan Santoso need to be careful not to set up Will Likely for long returns. Advantage: Gophers

PLAYER TO WATCH

Maryland senior Will Likely is a two-time All-Big Ten selection. The 5-7, 176-pounder has started at both cornerback and receiver and is an electrifying returner. Between kickoff returns, punt returns and interception returns, he has eight career touchdowns.

THE OPPONENT

After going 3-9 last season, Maryland replaced Randy Edsall with Michigan D coordinator D.J. Durkin. Their four wins came against Howard (a 1-5 FCS team), Florida International (coach since fired), Central Florida (0-12 last season) and Purdue (Darrell Hazell is 3-23 in Big Ten).

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. TERRAPINS OFFENSE

Maryland QB Perry Hills (above) left last week’s game with a right (throwing) shoulder injury but is expected to play. Last week, Penn State came in and held this offense to 270 yards, winning 38-14. Minnesota’s defense started clicking last week vs. Iowa. Advantage: Gophers

INTANGIBLES

The Terps will have about 40,000 fans at 51,802-seat Maryland Stadium with pleasant fall weather. Not exactly hostile environs for Rhoda’s first career start. Advantage: Gophers

JOE’S PREDICTION

MINNNESOTA 27

MARYLAND 21

Minnesota will rediscover the running game, making Rhoda’s job easier, as the Gophers get a road win.