Source note: You can find Football Outsiders’ S&P, FEI, and FEI+ rankings here, which include a lot of the advanced metrics I’ll discuss in this article.
The F/+ IU v. Maryland game prediction
(Thanks to @SBN_BillC for use of this rundown.)
Chance of winning
Maryland at Indiana
Indiana by 6.1 (25.9 – 19.9)
Indiana gets the honor of welcoming the Maryland Terrapins to the Big Ten, and needless to say, it’s a huge opportunity for your Hoosiers.
Your @CrimsonCast Keys to the Game
Win the field position battle
If you read part 1 of our preview, you know the Terps’ best kept secret – this Maryland offense isn’t all that scary. They’re currently sub-90 in offensive FEI right now, which doesn’t scare you much after besting Missouri’s attack last week.
If Indiana can force Maryland into poor field position on a regular basis, Maryland’s not particularly good at driving the length of the field. They’re 95th in value added drives (and 92nd in methodical drives), and are much more explosive than they are a team that can move the ball gradually. Indiana’s actually done very well in that stat so far this year.
As an Indiana fan, you have to worry about Indiana’s poor performance defending those methodical drives (fully on display in the BGSU game). When you’re talking about a game plan, though, I’d rather force them to beat us with their weakness instead of their strength. Contain CJ Brown and hope that you can force a mistake on third down to get the ball back.
Either way, Indiana will need a big day out of Toth – if he can flip the field, the stats show that Indiana should be able to slow Maryland down. Toth against Mizzou had a remarkable game. He had eight punts for a 44 yard average and pinned three punts inside the Missouri 20 yard line. We need that Toth, and not the one with the 20 yard punt against BGSU, to show up.
Keep Maryland behind the sticks
This is something Indiana should be able to do with regularity. Indiana does their best defending on first and second down, and Maryland offensively is well below average offensively on standard downs.
Once Maryland is behind the sticks, they struggle in clear passing down situations offensively (82nd).
While you have to worry that Indiana struggles in the same situations defensively, you have to like your chances on third and long against this Maryland offense. If Indiana is able to keep Maryland below their average on 3rd and long, it could be a big day for the Hoosier defense.
Take a cue from Bowling Green State and West Virginia.
Looking back at past results, West Virginia’s victory over Maryland looked an awful lot like BGSU’s win over Indiana. West Virginia had a mind-blowing 108 plays in the win, with a balanced offense rushing 59 times and passing 49 times.
Add up Maryland’s inability to get teams off the field in 3 and outs with their desire to not give up explosive plays, and you get a Maryland Defense that is 80th in the nation in defending methodical drives right now. If Indiana is patient, they should be able to grind out some points against a Maryland D that is good, but not much better than what they saw against Mizzou last week.
Here’s another interesting stat for you – keep in mind that this stat isn’t adjusted for opponent quality. Still, Maryland’s defense is 73rd in yards per play given up (5.39 yards per play). Indiana’s D is actually 43rd at 4.92 ypp. Both of these defenses have faced a ton of plays, but Maryland’s actually doing a bit worse on a per play basis.
So if Indiana is willing to grind out some drives and keep the up-tempo attack going, they have a chance at real success against a good Big Ten defense in Maryland.
Galen Clavio’s film-noire video preview:
Michael: All of these things in the preview above point to an Indiana win. I’m going to call a 42-35 Indiana win with a Maryland garbage time touchdown to make it look closer than it was.
Mike Petry: The #Coleman4Heisman campaign takes a hit as Maryland sells out to stop IU’s running attack. This opens things up for #TeamSudfeld and the Hoosier quarterback passes for four touchdowns. IU wins 35-27.
Scott: This can go either way. But I’m going to be optimistic and say IU 35 – 28.