A little more than a year ago, Maryland and Iowa squared off in a back-and-forth tilt at Byrd Stadium that featured the Terps erasing a 14-point first-quarter lead before holding off a frantic Hawkeyes comeback late in the fourth quarter for a 38-31 homecoming win.
On Saturday, Iowa and Maryland will met again, but the cast of characters will be drastically different. For the Hawkeyes, former quarterback Jake Rudock is now at Michigan and already has a win over Maryland this season. For the Terps, big play wide receiver Stefon Diggs is turning heads in the NFL and quarterback C.J. Brown turned the reins over to Perry Hills after his graduation.
Still, the Terps are hoping to use lessons from last season's game when they face off with the No. 10 Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday.
"They're a very similar team to what they were last year," left tackle Michael Dunn said. "Just normal Iowa, a very well-coached team, very fundamentally sound. They don't make any mistakes. That's a thing that we notice when we watch film. They're just so well-coached that the only thing we got to do is make sure we do our thing. We can't be the ones to make the mistakes. We got to hold onto the ball, we got to make sure we got our blocks, and as long as you do that, it should be a good game."
This season, Iowa's offense has been balanced. The Hawkeyes are averaging 214.4 yards per game on the ground and 206.7 yards per game through the air. Last season, the Terps were able to turn the tables on the Hawkeyes. By building a 10-point third-quarter lead that grew to 17 in the fourth quarter, Maryland forced Rudock to try to beat them through the air.
The Terps threw the Hawkeyes off kilter, and Iowa ended up passing 56 times for 317 yards and rushing 31 times for 116 yards. Cornerback Will Likely had one of the game's biggest plays when he intercepted Rudock and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to put Maryland up, 31-21.
Iowa boasts a capable passer this season in C.J. Beathard, and though running back Jordan Canzeri (nine touchdowns) is out, backup Akrum Wadley rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns against Northwestern two weeks ago.
Offensively, Maryland was balanced against Iowa last season. Brown and Hills passed for 206 yards, while the Terps rushed for 212 yards on the ground, led by Brown's 99. Running back Wes Brown had two short touchdown runs inside the five-yard line, while Hills — making his first appearance for the Terps in nearly two years — connected with Diggs for a 53-yard touchdown in relief of C.J. Brown.
"A lot of their schemes, their formations are the same, but it's different personnel," wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo said. "So I feel like it's a little different from last year but not too much different, being the same coordinator and same coverages and blitzes and what not."
Much has changed from Oct. 18, 2014. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was perceived to be on the hotseat by some. His team is 7-0 and has a good shot at winning the Big Ten Conference's West division. Former Maryland coach Randy Edsall was leading the Terps to back-to-back winning seasons. He's gone now.
And while the Terps acknowledge that much, they know there's still plenty of experience to draw on Saturday.
"They're doing the same thing," defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said. "They're doing a great job running the ball, they're good with the play action, they know how to block the fronts. Whatever front you give them, they have an answer. It comes down to being disciplined, being gap sound, and tackling well."