The No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes were supposed to be in for a big test Friday night in College Park. The Maryland Terrapins entered the contest 4-0 with one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country in Taulia Tagovailoa. Iowa’s defense, which had shut down big-time offenses in the previous four games, was supposedly going to have problems with Maryland’s offense.
In truly dominant fashion, Iowa stamped its name further into the College Football Playoff picture with a 51-14 rout of the Terrapins. Tagovailoa threw five interceptions as part of Maryland’s seven turnovers on the night, and Iowa’s offense took full advantage. The Hawkeyes scored on every possession but one after they got a turnover, totaling 24 points off takeaways. The defense also had two sacks in the win.
Iowa’s biggest test of the season comes next week at home against No. 4 Penn State. The Hawkeyes avoid Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State in the cross-division schedule, so the Nittany Lions are the biggest threat left.
If Iowa can navigate through Penn State, it’ll only have road trips to Wisconsin and Northwestern to really worry about. And as they say, defense travels. This is setting up to be a special season for Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Even with one loss in the Big Ten championship game (and that’s definitely not a given based on how this defense is playing), Iowa has a resume worthy of being included in the College Football Playoff.
Maryland is still on track for a great season under Mike Locksley in Year 3. Tagovailoa will have to shake off this defeat, but he’s still one of the top passers in the Big Ten. The Terps get Ohio State on the road next week and have a tough stretch late in the season with Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan in three straight weeks. If Maryland can win more than one game of the four, it’ll be further proof of Locksley’s approach working.