Maryland pulled off a memorable comeback when it met Minnesota on the gridiron last Oct. 30. With spectators prohibited due to the pandemic, Terrapins fans couldn’t storm the field in celebration — so the players did it themselves.
This year, the Golden Gophers will be the home team and look to dole out some revenge for the 45-44 overtime loss when they host Maryland in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Minnesota (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) hasn’t lost since its Week 4 upset defeat to Bowling Green. The Gophers beat now-ranked Purdue on the road and Nebraska at home by a touchdown apiece.
They catch Maryland (4-2, 1-2) at a good time. The Terrapins lost consecutive blowouts to ranked opponents Iowa and Ohio State, though they enter Saturday’s game off a bye week.
Many of the principal players from last year’s showdown are back in place, including quarterbacks Tanner Morgan for Minnesota and Taulia Tagovailoa for Maryland. When the Terrapins trailed the Gophers by 17 entering the fourth quarter last time out, Tagovailoa guided them on three straight scoring drives to force overtime.
Tagovailoa ran in a 2-yard touchdown for the first points of OT. Minnesota responded with a touchdown of its own, but kicker Brock Walker missed the extra point, handing Maryland the one-point win.
“They (Maryland) want to be as balanced as they possibly could be, but everything revolves around the quarterback,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “Last year, he absolutely hurt us. He hurt us in every way possible — with his arm, with his legs. And he’s a creator. He’s one of the best creators in our league.”
Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions in Maryland’s two most recent losses after opening the year with 10 TDs and one pick through four games. The defense allowed a combined 117 points to Iowa and Ohio State.
“I felt like one of the things we’d been able to do against two of the top teams was (defend) the run,” Terrapins coach Mike Locksley said, “but we gave up a lot of explosive plays in the passing game, which hadn’t been something that we had done earlier in the year.”
Locksley said the team hopes cornerbacks Jakorian Bennett and Kenny Bennett will be ready to return after missing the Ohio State game with hamstring injuries. But wide receiver Jeshaun Jones (lower leg) and linebacker Durell Nchami (upper body) underwent season-ending surgeries.
Maryland owns a 3-2 record against Minnesota since joining the Big Ten.
–Field Level Media