In case you forgot due to our extensive basketball coverage here's a reminder: IOWA IS ACTUALLY PLAYING A FOOTBALL GAME THIS WEEK. AGAINST AN ACTUAL
ACC ERRRR BIG TEN TEAM. You might remember heading out to Maryland, quickly amassing a 14 point lead and slowly but surely blowing everything up and eventually losing 31-38 last year? Something something something Reggie Spearman attempting to cover Stefon Diggs something something oh god no. Things have changed since then. Iowa isn't the same team it was a year ago. Maryland certainly isn't the same team it was a year ago. So let's talk about the units.
On Offense: Wide Receiver vs. Cornerback
Ok so time to be brutally honest: Maryland is a horrible team defensively and they aren't good anywhere. They rank 104th in total defense, 82nd in rushing defense and 106th in passing yards allowed. They're allowing 444 yards and 21 points per game. This can likely be attributed to the Terrapins losing majority of their front seven and their secondary, arguably their best unit on the field, not performing up to expectations. Speaking of likely, cornerback Will Likely is easily the best player on Maryland's defense (Jake Rudock remembers Will Likely). He leads the Terps in all-purpose yards and he's a cornerback. He's amassed 34 tackles, three tackles for loss and broken up nine passes but has yet to record an interception this season.
Maryland's leader in interceptions is Likely's counterpart, senior Sean Davis, who is a turnover machine. Through seven games Davis has accumulated 52 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions and forced...wait for it...five (!!!) fumbles. FIVE. He ranks first in the nation in forced fumbles. That is an absurd statistic.
Like I said, Maryland's secondary is probably their best defensive unit on the field and they're still allowing 268 yards per game. I don't think it will be a struggle for Iowa to move the ball through the air and I would like to see an (almost) healthy Tevaun come out and look spry, Matt VandeBerg to have a 100-yard game and Jerminic Smith to have another Illinois-esque performance.
On Defense: Kicking Team vs. Receiving Team
Well, this is a new one. Will Likely not only is Maryland's best defensive player, he's their punt and kick returner. He's returned two punts for touchdowns and averages 20 yards per return, good for third in the nation. He also averages 21.7 yards per kickoff return, which isn't too shabby.
What's interesting is that despite Dillon Kidd ranking 18th in the nation in punting, averaging 44.8 yards, Iowa's punt return defense is ranked 97th, giving up 11.11 yards per return. What's also interesting that Marshall Koehn, who had a touchback percentage of 75% (18/24) in non-conference play, only has a touchback percentage of 39% (7/18) in conference. Iowa will want to keep the ball out of Likely's hands if they want to prevent some sort of special teams catastrophe from occurring. The means Kidd will need to keep the ball out of bounds (or even through the end zone) and Keohn will need to kick the ball the way he did to start off the year.