The Terrapins go on the road for the first time in 2021 on Friday night, but they still have to be excited for the Week 3 Maryland at Illinois matchup. Mike Locksley’s team has put up 92 points through their first two games of the season, and now face an Illini squad that has allowed nearly 40 in their last two.
Illinois is at home and does already have a Big 10 win under their belt in a 30-22 victory over Nebraska in their season opener. It’s hard to overlook how bad the UI defense has been the last two weeks though, and at the same time Maryland’s offense only seems to be picking up steam.
Tagovailoa a Budding Star
The Maryland offense padded their stats with a 62-0 win over Howard last week as -47 favorites, but they Terrapins were also impressive in a 30-24 win against West Virginia in the season opener as +2.5 home underdogs.
The man that’s been driving this offensive success is Taulia Tagovailoa, going 26/36 for 322 and 3 TD vs. the Mountaineers and finishing 22/27 for 274 and another three scores last week. After two games Tagovailoa is completing 76.2% of his passes, is averaging 300+ yards/game, and has 6 TD to 0 INT.
The Maryland defense also looks great on paper thanks to the beating of Howard in week two. The Bison ran the ball 20 times for 66 yards and had just 80 yards passing. That has the Terrapins ranked in the top 20 defensively in the country in yards, points, and pass yards allowed. That’s a trend that probably won’t keep up, as Maryland gave up 32 ppg last season.
Can Illinois Offense Keep Them In It?
The Fighting Illini are +7 point home underdogs in the Week 3 Maryland at Illinois matchup but that number might even seem on the low side. The Illinois is a huge liability in this one, giving up 343 total yards to Adrian Martinez in the season opening win against Nebraska and getting progressively worse since then.
Illinois fell to 1-1 on the year with a 37-30 home loss to Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners ran for 217 yards as a team and UTSA QB Frank Harris threw for another 280. Virginia QB Brennan Armstrong was playing catch last week, throwing for 405 yards and 5 TD in the Cavaliers 42-14 win over Illinois.
Illinois will get their starting QB back after Brandon Peters hurt his non-throwing shoulder in the season opener against Nebraska after going just 3 for 4. Art Sitkowski has performed admirably in relief with 6 TD to just 1 INT, but he’s also only completing 56.9% of his throws and averaging 5 yards per attempt.
Week 3 Maryland at Illinois Pick
This looks like another huge offensive performance from Tagovailoa as Illinois’ defense has just been getting torched really all three games this season. We still don’t know a whole lot of what we have in the Maryland defense, but it is almost certain that the Terps’ offense will do their part.
Maryland 38 – Illinois 24
Free Pick: Maryland -7