Game: Iowa Hawkeyes at Maryland Terrapins
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Hawkeyes -3.5, Terrapins +3.5
Iowa heads to Maryland tonight in a Big Ten clash of unbeaten. Both teams are unbeaten at 4-0, but they each reached that mark behind starkly contrasting styles. The Hawkeyes, who are now ranked No. 5 in the country, got there by playing outstanding defense and running the football. The Terps have used a high-powered offense led by QB Taulia Tagovailoa to ignite their 4-0 start.
For Iowa, any chance of remaining unbeaten begins with its defense. That defense began the season with seven returning starters from what was a top ten defense in 2020. In the season opener, the Iowa defense created three turnovers, all interceptions of Indiana QB Michael Penix. CB Riley Moss returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes then beat in-state rival and then ninth-ranked Iowa State and rolled over Kent State and Colorado State the past two weeks. Through four games, the Hawkeyes allow just 271.5 yards per game. Just 84.5 of those yards come on the ground. That has resulted in Iowa giving up just 11 points per game. That ranks third in the country. Only Georgia and Texas A&M are better.
Iowa’s defensive dominance isn’t something new either. It’s one of the things head coach Kirk Ferentz has built the Hawkeyes program around. Iowa hasn’t given up more than 24 points in a single game since the 2018 season. The Hawkeyes have gone 26 straight games allowing 24 points or less. Will that continue tonight?
Maryland’s offense is averaging over 519 yards of offense and 37 points per game so far this season. The Terps have not faced a defense like Iowa’s yet. In two games against Power 5 opponents – West Virginia and Illinois – Maryland scored 30 and 20 points, respectively. The Terps blew out FCS opponent Howard 62-0 and pounded Kent State 37-16 last week.
Tagovailoa has completed 111-of-147 passes for 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season. He’s got some talented receivers like Dontay Demus Jr. who has 24 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns. The Maryland offense gets all the attention, but the defense has improved especially against the run. Iowa ranks 17th nationally against the run. Maryland checks in at No. 34.
That’s good because the Iowa running game is brutal. Iowa only rushes for 121 yards a game so far this season, but the Hawkeyes will pound defenses into oblivion if allowed. Iowa runs the ball on more than 50 percent of its offensive snaps. Doing so allows Iowa to shorten games and, combined with its elite defense, keep games close. As a result, Iowa has covered the spread in five of its last six games. The Hawkeyes faced three double-digit spreads in that time frame.
Iowa is also 6-2 ATS in its last eight games when playing as the favorite. Maryland has covered in four of its last five home games. Underdogs covering in weeknight home games has been a trend so far this season.
It’s not surprising the Under has cashed in all four of Iowa’s games this season. However, it is surprising that the Under is 3-1 in Maryland’s games this season.