COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz figures his team’s first game at Maryland will be a journey into the unknown — for about five minutes.
Even though the Hawkeyes have never been to Byrd Stadium, they have no intention of taking a guided tour of the 64-year-old facility Saturday before getting down to business.
Here’s the plan, according to Ferentz: “Look around a little bit. Yep, OK. It’s a stadium. Let’s go play.”
Iowa (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) has plenty riding in this inaugural meeting between the two schools. The Hawkeyes have won three straight and can retain at least a share of first place in the West Division with a victory.
“What we do moving forward, that’s going to be the key right now,” Ferentz said. “We haven’t always played as well as we need to, and the big thing is how much improvement can we make here in the next seven weeks? That’s really what it’s going to come down to. ”
Following narrow wins over Northern Iowa and Ball State, the Hawkeyes lost at home to Iowa State before defeating Pittsburgh, Purdue and Indiana.
Not that it means anything.
“Really, it’s the second half of the season that determines typically who we are,” said Ferentz, now in his 16th year at Iowa.
The Terrapins (4-2, 1-1) received a bye after opening their Big Ten home schedule with a 52-24 loss to Ohio State on Oct. 4.
“We’ve got everything still out there in front of us,” said coach Randy Edsall, whose team is averaging 34.7 points per game.
Some things to know about Saturday’s Iowa-Maryland matchup:
DUAL QUARTERBACKS: Both teams regularly employ two quarterbacks, although the manner in which they do so is different. Ferentz rotates between Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard. Edsall starts C.J. Brown but won’t hesitate to use Caleb Rowe in a relief role. Rowe has played in the second half of each of Maryland’s last two games. Last week against Indiana, Beathard saw limited action while Rudock went 19 for 27 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. “I wouldn’t describe it as like a Kodak moment,” Ferentz said of Rudock’s performance. “I thought he played really well. We expect Jake to play well, and we expect C.J. to play well.”
ROADIES: The Hawkeyes have won four straight and six of their last seven on the road. “It’s probably about 98 percent mindset,” Ferentz said. “It’s how you look at it. You have to play good, but it’s your mental approach.” Maryland is 1-2 at home this season, beating James Madison and losing to West Virginia before Ohio State came to town.
POINTS MADE: The Terrapins have scored at least 24 points in all six games, a record streak for the program at the start of the season. Credit goes to Brown, Rowe and a diverse running game in which five different players have scored rushing touchdowns. “We played good defenses in the ACC and there are good defenses in the Big Ten,” Brown said. “Can we compete? Absolutely. Can we fit in? Absolutely.”
RECRUITING TRIP: One reason the Big Ten expanded to the East Coast was to help teams land recruits from beyond the Midwest. Iowa has seven players from Maryland on the roster and is looking for more. “Expanding eastward hopefully will make it easier for prospects out in that region to be enthused about playing in the Big Ten,” Ferentz said. “That’s good football out there.”
GOOD BYE: The Terrapins rested their weary players during the bye week, got healthy and began preparations for Iowa well over a week in advance of the game.
“We were able to take a look at ourselves and our tendencies and see what we were doing and what people were seeing out of us,” Edsall said. Iowa gets a bye following this game.
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