Maryland served notice with a 34-29 win over Texas, but last week’s 35-14 home loss to Temple showed the Terps’ flaws. They converted only one of 12 third-down opportunities. Back-to-back top-30 recruiting classes have increased Maryland’s talent level.
Player to watch
The Terrapins are an athletic bunch, and one of their best is junior defensive end Byron Cowart, a transfer from Auburn. Cowart, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2015, didn’t pan out on the Plains, but he has nine tackles and a sack in the past two games.
Gophers offense vs. Terrapins defense
QB Zack Annexstad and the Gophers freshman-heavy skill-position players get their first road experience. There are much tougher places for a road debut, but the young Gophers must finish better than they did last week. Advantage: Terrapins
Gophers defense vs. Terrapins offense
Maryland boasts big-play threats, led by RB Ty Johnson and WRs Jahrvis Davenport and Jeshaun Jones. U playmakers Antoine Winfield Jr. and Blake Cashman will be key. Advantage: Even
Both teams have dangerous return men — Winfield for the Gophers on punts and Johnson for the Terps on kickoffs. Kicker Emmit Carpenter swings the edge to Minnesota. Advantage: Gophers
Serious off-field distractions, including the absence of suspended and embattled head coach DJ Durkin, continue to hang over the Terps program. The Gophers will be playing with heavy hearts after the death of former teammate Nick Connelly. Advantage: Gophers
Minnesota 20, Maryland 17
Gophers get couple of TDs, a couple of field goals, and the defense shows it’s legit. A 4-0 start going into the bye.