Maryland’s quest for the Big Ten East title took a significant hit last week – and it only can hope its star quarterback doesn’t suffer the same fate Saturday afternoon as the Terrapins host Minnesota. Redshirt senior Perry Hills was knocked out of last week’s 38-14 defeat to Penn State with a shoulder ailment and could be at risk of re-injuring himself if he suits up against the Golden Gophers.
Maryland coach DJ Durkin marveled at the toughness of Mills, who originally suffered a shoulder injury on Sept. 17 against Central Florida and pleaded to no avail to re-enter the loss to the Nittany Lions. “He’s just that type of guy,” Durkin told reporters earlier this week. “In so many ways he shows it, and especially now with an injury, and Perry was fighting like crazy and almost angry and wanting to get back in that game, and I made a decision.” Minnesota already knows it will be without its starting quarterback as Mitch Leidner was diagnosed with a concussion following the Gophers’ 14-7 loss to Iowa last week. Former walk-on Conor Rhoda is listed as the starter for Saturday, prompting Minnesota receiver Drew Wolitarsky to quip: “He likes to sling the rock. So, we’re going to have to tape our fingers this week.”
ABOUT MINNESOTA (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten): The Golden Gophers actually might be better off with Rhoda under center, considering Leidner was 13-of-33 with two interceptions against the Hawkeyes last week and has just one touchdown against four interceptions over his last three games. Minnesota couldn’t do anything on the ground either, finishing with just 102 rushing yards after racking up an average of 254.3 in their previous three contests. Rodney Smith ranks fifth in the Big Ten in rushing yards (446) but was held to a season-low 44 on 11 carries by Iowa.
ABOUT MARYLAND (4-1, 1-1): While Hills’ status is the topic of the week in College Park, the Terrapins might want to remedy last week’s ground assault at the hands of Penn State, which piled up 372 rushing yards – the most Maryland has given up since 2011. Maryland is no slouch itself in that category, ranking second in the conference at 274 per game as Lorenzo Harrison leads a balanced ground attack with 362 yards and four touchdowns. The Terrapins will be without linebacker Isaiah Davis, who received a one-game suspension for a late hit on Nittany Lions kicker Joey Julius.
1. Minnesota hasn’t opened its conference schedule at 0-3 since 2012.
2. Maryland’s 153 passing yards per game is the second-lowest total in the Big Ten, ahead of only Rutgers.
3. Terrapins DL Jesse Aniebonam ranks second in the conference in sack yards (42) and third in tackles for losses (8.5).
PREDICTION: Maryland 31, Minnesota 24