Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Maryland Terrapins (-6.5)
After starting the season with four straight wins, Maryland was finally tested with a game at Penn State. They fell 38-14, making it evident that they still have work to do. That being said, Maryland is clearly a lot better than in years past, and Minnesota is coming off their second straight loss.
The Golden Gophers will be without quarterback Mitch Leidner this week, forcing Conor Rhoda to step in under center. Rhoda has only attempted two pass attempts in his career, therefore there is a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position this week for Minnesota. A week removed from eight costly penalties, and Leidner completing 13-of-33 passes, the Gophers have to be worried about what’s in store for Rhoda.
They’ll try to run the ball with Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks after seeing Saquon Barkley torch the Terrapins’ defense for 202 yards and a score on 31 carries. That being said, Minnesota can’t shoot themselves in the foot again this week and force themselves into passing situations. Also, Maryland has not been a terrible run defense this year.
Barkley is one of the best running backs in the nation, so it makes sense why he found a way to beat the Maryland defense, but the Terrapins have only given up 3.9 yards per carry in 2016. In fact, they held three of their first four opponents to under four yards per rush.
Maryland is still a mystery, though. Their defense still ranks 12th in the nation in points allowed per game, however their first decent opponent, Penn State, scored 38 points against them. Whether Maryland is for real or a product of a weak early season schedule is still yet to be seen.
Although, if Maryland quarterback Perry Hills is able to suit up, there is no reason the Terrapins shouldn’t win. Minnesota has an inexperienced quarterback, the Terrapins run games has dominated all year, and they’re at home. This game will be closer than people think, though.
Prediction: Maryland 28 Minnesota 24