When and where is the Gophers vs. Maryland game?
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium
Records: The 17th-ranked Gophers (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) have the nation’s fourth longest winning streak at nine games dating back to November 2018 and an 8-0 start this year would be the first since 1941. Maryland (3-4, 1-3) won its first two games and were ranked 21st in the nation before losing four of five. The Terrapins only win in that stretch is versus Rutgers.
What channels are the game on?
History: The Terrapins have run over the Gophers twice in the P.J. Fleck era. Maryland rushed for 262 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-24 win in Minneapolis in 2017, and last season, they had 315 yards on the ground and four touchdowns in a 42-14 blowout in College Park. Minnesota is 1-3 vs. Maryland all-time, including a loss in the 1977 Hall of Fame Bowl.
Key matchup: Gophers run defense vs. Maryland running backs Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland. Given its track record, the Gophers will have to prove they can slow Maryland’s explosive rushers. Javon Leake is averaging 8.5 yards per carry this seasons. Anthony McFarland had an 18.7 yards per carry against Minnesota a year ago. Plus, the Gophers top tacker, Kamal Martin, injured his knee in the 42-7 win over Rutgers and is considered a game-time decision.
Who has the edge?
Gophers offense vs. Maryland defense: QB Tanner Morgan is fifth in the country with a 186.9 rating and is first in the Big Ten in yards per completion (16.07). Meanwhile, the Terrapins are last in the conference (and 118th in the nation) in passing yards allowed. Maryland’s secondary will be without its two best, CB Tino Ellis, who’s season ended in a 40-14 loss to Purdue on Oct. 12, and S Antoine Richardson, who injured his knee in spring practices. Gophers RB Rodney Smith is 96 yards away from passing Darrell Thompson for first on the career all-purpose yardage list. Terrapins LB Keandre Jones, a Ohio State transfer, leads the team with six sacks and 10 tackles for lost yards. The Terrapins have had a takeaway in 19 consecutive games, the second longest streak in the country. The Gophers have not had a giveaway in two straight games, after a Morgan interception and fumble were returned for touchdowns against Illinois three weeks ago. Gophers top tight ends Jake Paulson and Ko Kieft are expected back from injuries that kept them out of the Rutgers rout. The Gophers are fourth in the nation in fewest penalties. They had 11 total penalties in the first two games and 19 in the last five. EDGE: Gophers
Gophers defense vs. Maryland offense: Minnesota has limited big plays all season. They’ve allowed only 18 plays of 20-plus yards, ranking seventh in the nation. But the Terrapins offense has ripped off big gains this year, totaling 42 this year to be tied at 18th in the country. RB McFarland, second team all-Big Ten last year, missed last week’s 34-28 loss to Indiana with an ankle injury. The NFL prospect with a 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds has seven rushing touchdowns and one receiving. Fellow RB Javon Leake leads team with 499 rushing yards and seven TDs. The Gophers could be without pivotal linebacker Kamal Martin. He appeared to injury his right knee against Rutgers, and Fleck said he avoided serious injury and is a game-time decision for Saturday. If Martin can’t play, inexperienced backups Mariano Sori-Marin and Braelen Oliver will step in. The Gophers could also face their first experienced quarterback for a full game this season. Josh Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, missed the last two games with an ankle injury. He has completed 51 percent of his passes for 968 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. The best target is WR Dontay Demus, who has 466 receiving yards and four TDs. The Gophers had three interceptions versus Rutgers, two from Antoine Winfield Jr., including one returned 33 yards for a touchdown, and the first career pick for Phillip Howard. EDGE: Gophers
Special teams: Gophers K Michael Lantz missed a 33-yard field goal against Rutgers, his third miss on seven attempts this year. The Terrapins have some of the best return units in the country, with DJ Turner taking a punt back for a touchdown and Leake returning a kickoff for a score. Maryland has not made a field goal in two attempts. EDGE: Maryland
Prediction: Minnesota, a 17-point favorite, will be able to limit Maryland’s big plays on the ground, while the Gophers will have ample space to air it out against a porous Terrapins pass defense. Minnesota will shut the door on looking ahead to the bye week and their first matchup against a ranked team when Penn State visits in two weeks. Gophers, 28-13