NU vs. Maryland: Keys to the Game
By Patrick Winograd
Northwestern football will play its fourth conference game of the 2022 season against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.
The Wildcats will head to College Park, Maryland with the goal of winning their first game since defeating Nebraska in Dublin.
Northwestern leads the all-time series against Maryland 2-0, with wins coming in 2017 and 2020.
After a rough few weeks of Big Ten play, the Wildcats hope to right the ship against a Maryland team who is looking to clinch its second straight bowl game appearance.
Here are a few keys to this game:
- Stay balanced offensively:
In Northwestern’s win over Nebraska, running backs Cam Porter and Evan Hull combined for 41 carries, 213 yards, and two touchdown runs. While the ‘Cats attempted just 37 passes against the Huskers, they racked up 214 rushing yards – their most in a game so far this year. Northwestern also tallied its second-most passing yards of 2022 against Nebraska. This balanced approach by Northwestern is what spurred the ‘Cats best offensive performance of the season. Not becoming one-dimensional offensively spurred the ‘Cats best offensive performance of the season. However, in the five losses since then, the offense has looked one-dimensional, relying too much on just Evan Hull to carry the team to success. Staying as close as possible to an even run versus pass play split will give the ‘Cats their best possible chance at upsetting Maryland on Saturday.
- Limit Maryland’s run game:
Maryland has averaged at least five yards per carry in four of its games this season. When the Terrapins achieve that average, they are undefeated. But, when averaging under five yards per carry, Maryland is 1-2. Starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa left last weekend’s win over Indiana with a knee injury, and he will likely be a game-time decision on Saturday. If he is unable to play, the Terrapins’ backup, Billy Edwards Jr. will most likely be under center. Last week against Indiana, Edwards failed to complete a single pass over the course of three drives after replacing Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter. With an injured Tagovailoa or Edwards at quarterback, Northwestern can expect Maryland to run more than normal, and will need to be ready to stop the Terrapins’ rushing attack.
- Limit Self-Inflicted Wounds:
Northwestern holds a turnover ratio of -6 so far this season, and the loss to Wisconsin was proof of the ‘Cats inability to take care of the ball. Against the Badgers, Northwestern managed to put together three drives that advanced into Wisconsin territory, but failed to convert any of them into points. Those drives, including two trips to the red zone, ended in a fumble, interception and missed field goal. Against a quality opponent like Maryland on the road, the ‘Cats must capitalize on any opportunity to put points on the board and avoid momentum-killing turnovers like the ones committed against Wisconsin.