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Previewing Maryland-Iowa with a Hawkeyes beat reporter

Iowa wide receiver Damond Powell is a key player to watch this week. He took this reception for a touchdown last week against Indiana.
Iowa wide receiver Damond Powell is a key player to watch this week. He took this reception for a touchdown last week against Indiana. (Reese Strickland, USA Today Sports)

Back for a second season, we'll be previewing each of Maryland's football games by conducting a Q&A with a reporter who covers the Terps' next opponent.

This week, we traded emails with Cody Goodwin, who covers Iowa football for The Daily Iowan. If you recognize Cody's name, it's probably because he spent this past summer as an intern at The Baltimore Sun, where he wrote a number of sports stories and soaked up countless morsels of knowledge.

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Be sure to check out more of Cody's work at The Daily Iowan website before the Terps and Hawkeyes kick off Saturday at noon at Byrd Stadium.

TRACKING THE TERPS: Iowa comes into Saturday's game 5-1, but it sounds like many are attributing that to their schedule more than their ability. Is this team a legitimate contender in the Big Ten?

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Cody Goodwin: It's hard to say. As of this writing, I'd probably say no. In terms of conference play, Iowa's only beaten Purdue and Indiana, which aren't the Big Ten's premier teams by any stretch. After a less-than-ideal start to the season, Iowa's offense is slowly performing at the level we all thought it might be able to at the season's beginning. The defense is also pretty young, and that inexperience can be glaring at times. This team certainly has the opportunity to do something special this year, but right now, I wouldn't call them contenders.

Would we be correct to assume that this is going to be Maryland's first look at a traditional (or should we say stereotypical) run-first, three yards and a cloud of dust type of Big Ten team?

It should be correct to assume that, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz would love it if you did assume that. But the numbers just don't back that up this year, at least through six games. Iowa's rushing offense hasn't quite taken off yet, at just 151.3 yards per game. That's good for 10th in the conference and very uncharacteristic of the Hawkeyes, who pride themselves on their run game year in and year out. (Their passing offense isn't much better at 230 yards per game, good for eighth in the league.)

For what it's worth, though, the Hawkeyes have seen some improvement in the run game in their last two games. Against both Purdue and Indiana, Iowa ran for 175 and 207 yards, respectively, after averaging just over 130 rushing yards in its first four games.

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Kirk Ferentz spent some time in this neck of the woods as an assistant with the Ravens. Has he talked about that at all this week?

He did not. But there are quite a few Iowa players who will be returning to their home state for Saturday's game. Seven current Hawkeyes hail from Maryland, the most prominent being starting free safety Jordan Lomax. Lomax is from Upper Marlboro and played at DeMatha. He spent the early part of this week gathering upwards of 70 tickets for family and friends to come watch him play at Byrd Stadium. (He talked up Maryland's seafood, too, especially the crab. Now I'm hungry.)

Can you give us one key Iowa player who we should keep an eye on this week?

There are quite a few I could list here, but I'll go with speedy receiver Damond Powell. Powell was brought in last year as a junior-college transfer, and he is without a doubt Iowa's most lethal deep threat. He has three catches of 40-plus yards this season, which ties for the most in the Big Ten. Even more, in Iowa's past three games, he has six catches for 200 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown catch and run against Indiana. For his Hawkeye career, he averages 25.4 yards per catch. If No. 22 is on the field, be aware that Iowa may go deep.

And a prediction?

This game is shaping up to be a good one. Maryland has shown it can play good defense — the Terps held Indiana's offense to just 15 points in Bloomington, which is impressive — and it probably helps that the Terps are coming off a bye week. Iowa has played really well on the road the past couple seasons. Even this year, the Hawkeyes have won both of their road games. I've somewhat gone back and forth all week, but I think Maryland takes this one in a dogfight, say, 17-14.

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