Terps ready to uncork Champaign?
Two weeks into the season and Terps fans are elated with Mike Locksley’s path for his bale of turtles. After undermining the Mountaineers and slaughtering the Bison, Maryland will look to pop Champaign against the Illini this Friday to start its season 3-0.
Maryland is currently favored by 7.5 points after the Fighting Illini got smoked out against the Virginia Cavaliers 42 – 14 this past Saturday. It will not only be the first road test for the Terrapins, but its first conference game this season. While only two games in, Maryland is dominating the Illini in every major statistical category and is on the verge of enter the AP top 25 polls after receiving 14 votes this past weekend. With another dominant showing, Maryland very well could enter the top 25 rankings.
This season has been the season the Terps have waited for. Mike Locksley enters his third season and Maryland is finally seeing what three consecutive recruiting classes can look like. While not dominant in the trenches on either side of the ball against West Virginia, they were competitive enough to give Tualia Tagovailoa time to throw to one of college footballs most electric wide receiving cores in Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett and Howard simply had no chance against the dynamic duo.
Where Maryland fans should worry is the possibility of a trap game. Maryland has shown flashes of unbelievable offenses the past two seasons only to get caught up in their own hype and disappoint against Big 10 competition. When Maryland’s offense does struggle, they struggle mightily and can lose a field position game to lesser opponents. If Maryland can’t find the big plays they need and get caught in a back and forth slugfest with a motivated Ilini team, they could be looking at a season changing loss.
Early prediction: Maryland wins and easily covers the spread with an 42 – 17 victory as Illini will not have the horses necessary to run with the Turtles. I do not believe that Maryland is the immature team of the past, but instead focused on its fearless future. They have player driven leaders in their locker room and a raised expectation for themselves. They know a victory here and against Kent State the following game leads them to a program altering game against Iowa at home on October first. I do not expect Maryland to fumble the opportunity.