COLLEGE PARK — Near the beginning of the season, Scott McBrien, the former Maryland quarterback and current sideline reporter for the Maryland radio broadcast team, said he thought the Terps would win at least seven or eight games.
His rationale: The Terps would steal one or two games they wouldn't be favored to win — against Ohio State and Michigan State, at Wisconsin — and could win most, if not at all, of the remaining games on their schedule.
Saturday's game against Iowa is is one of those games.
The Hawkeyes are 5-1 this season, including 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference. But Iowa has weaknesses that Maryland (4-2, 1-1) will look to take advantage of at Byrd Stadium in the Terps' homecoming game.
"We've got everything still out there in front of us," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "We're just taking it one game at a time. Iowa's up. We are going to have to play well to get a win on homecoming."
This game is another opportunity for the Terps to show they can compete with the better teams in the Big Ten. Before their bye last week, Maryland lost to Ohio State, now ranked No. 13, 52-24.
A win also would get the Terps back on track, with a 5-2 record heading into a difficult matchup at Wisconsin.
"This is very important," Terps nose tackle Darius Kilgo said. "Coming off a bye week, we feel pretty good as a team. We just want to get out there Saturday and just play to the best of our ability and just play football."
Key for Maryland will be how it matches up physically with an Iowa team that prides itself on being able to run the ball on offense and being able to stop the inside running game on defense.
The Terps struggled in the trenches during the Oct. 4 loss to the Buckeyes and had problems along the offensive line, in particular, during the first half of the season.
Fortunately for Maryland, this is not as talented or overpowering an Iowa team as some of the others former Ravens assistant coach and current Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz has had in his 16 years at the school.
The Hawkeyes rank 71st nationally in passing offense. Their primary running back, Mark Weisman, is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The offensive line, typically a strength, has had trouble at times creating holes.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes gave up 316 rushing yards last week to Indiana, which averaged more than 8 yards per carry. Pittsburgh running back James Conner ran for 155 yards and a touchdown against them. Iowa also allowed 380 passing yards and two passing touchdowns to Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen in its season opener, although the Hawkeyes now are third in the Big Ten in passing defense.
On a positive note for Iowa, quarterback Jake Rudock was an efficient 19-for-27 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win over Indiana. The Hawkeyes offensive line has allowed just nine sacks in six games, and Iowa is 19th nationally in scoring defense.
"We're hardly ready to say, 'OK, we know who we are or what we are,' " Ferentz said during a conference call. "I think that's an ongoing story, and I think that's fairly typical for us. What it kind of gets down to is, if we keep improving and if we get better with each opportunity, then we'll have a chance to have a good team.
"If not, we'll either be mediocre or bad. So it's really about what we do during the next seven weeks that will determine what kind of football team we are."