NCAAF Game Preview - Maryland at Minnesota
Sat Oct 26, 2019 3:30 PM EDT

Ark
7
Ala
48
F
Aub
20
LSU
23
F
Wisc
7
OHSt
38
F
BC
7
Clem
59
F
Okla
41
K St
48
F
PSU
28
MSU
7
F
ND
14
Mich
45
F
WaSt
35
Oreg
37
F
Cal
0
Utah
35
F
Tex
27
TCU
37
F
SMU
34
Hou
31
F
MD
10
Minn
52
F
Iowa
20
NW
0
F
App
30
SoAl
3
F
OkSt
34
IASt
27
F
AzSt
32
UCLA
42
F
USC
35
Colo
31
F
BGSU
10
WestMI
49
F
MisSt
30
TxAM
49
F
Lib
34
Rut
44
F
Ill
24
Purd
6
F
MiaFL
16
Pitt
12
F
SJSU
34
Army
29
F
SMiss
20
Rice
6
F
Ohio
34
Ball
21
F
Nev
3
Wyo
31
F
W Ky
23
Marsh
26
F
NMSt
7
GaSo
41
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Akr
0
NIU
49
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E Mi
34
Toled
37
F OT
MiaOH
23
Kent
16
F
C Mi
20
Buff
43
F
Tul
38
Navy
41
F
Ariz
31
Stan
41
F
Ind
38
Neb
31
F
FLInt
17
MidTN
50
F
FlAtl
41
OD
3
F
UConn
56
UMass
35
F
UVA
21
Lou
28
F
Syr
17
FlaSt
35
F
NorTx
38
Char
39
F
SoFL
45
ECU
20
F
Hawaii
45
NM
31
F
SCar
21
Tenn
41
F
Duke
17
UNC
20
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TxSt
14
ArkSt
38
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Troy
33
GASt
52
F
Mem
42
Tuls
41
F
UCF
63
Temp
21
F
TxTch
34
Kans
37
F
ColSt
41
Fres
31
F
Mizzu
7
KY
29
F
LaTec
42
UTEP
21
F
UtSt
7
AF
31
F
SDSU
20
UNLV
17
F
Maryland-Minnesota Preview
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:31 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) As Minnesota waited in the locker room to take the field and face overmatched Rutgers last week, coach P.J. Fleck was collecting his thoughts when a staff member interrupted to report that Wisconsin had just lost to Illinois in the biggest stunner of the season so far in major college football.

Initially hesitant to present a potential distraction to his players, Fleck chose to weave the result into his pregame speech out of respect for the danger of letting up against a lesser opponent.

"This could happen to you," Fleck told them.

Though the Gophers passed the focus test with a 42-7 victory over a Scarlet Knights team on the verge of finishing as one of the worst in Big Ten history, the same message is relevant one week later.

Currently 17th in the Associated Press Top 25, the program's highest ranking in 15 years, the Gophers (7-0, 4-0) host Maryland (3-4, 1-3) on Saturday as 15-point favorites with a prime opportunity to build a two-game lead in the West Division because the Badgers play at third-ranked Ohio State.

With a bye waiting the following week, there is a widespread assumption the Gophers will take an 8-0 record into their game Nov. 9 against No. 6 Penn State.

Not if they lose their edge, though, against a Terrapins team that has plenty of game-breaking players despite some struggles in conference play under first-year coach Michael Locksley.

"Literally on any given Saturday, if you're not at your best, if you don't play to the best of your ability, you can get beat by anybody, no matter who it is," Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan said. "It's always about us. If we don't play our best, no matter what happens, we can get beat."

That's what happened to Minnesota the last two years, albeit with teams not as strong as this one. The Gophers allowed 315 rushing yards, turned the ball over three times and lost 42-13 at Maryland in 2018, and in 2017 they fell 31-24 at home after giving up 262 rushing yards and producing two turnovers.

"They're crazy athletic. Their running backs, if they hit a crease, they take it for 100 yards," Minnesota defensive end Carter Coughlin said. "So we've got to make sure that everybody's in our gaps. Everybody needs to be extremely disciplined."

BACKFIELD IN MOTION

The Terrapins welcome back two stars from sprained ankles, quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. Jackson missed the last two games, and McFarland was held out of last week's 34-28 loss to Indiana after gaining only four yards on four carries in the previous game, a defeat by Purdue. Javon Leake rushed for a career-high 158 yards against the Hoosiers, but McFarland was still missed.

"He was as frustrated as I was and as we were as a team that he wasn't at 100%, and to have 100% Anthony McFarland will help the Terps," Locksley said.

STRONG START STATS

The Gophers, who are one of 10 undefeated teams remaining in the FBS, have not been 8-0 since 1941, when they were national champions. Their last 5-0 start in the Big Ten was 1961, the season of their last trip to the Rose Bowl. Including the final two contests of 2018, the Gophers have won nine straight games for the first time since 1941-42. With a 116-31 combined margin of victories over Illinois, Nebraska and Rutgers this month, Minnesota has won three consecutive conference games by 20-plus points for the first time since 1935.

BALL HAWKS

The Terrapins have forced a turnover in 19 straight games, the second-longest streak in the FBS behind Syracuse (21). An interception in the end zone by Antoine Brooks Jr. last week extended the run, though that was hardly solace from a shoddy performance in which they yielded 520 yards in offense to Indiana. The Terps have picked off six passes and recovered five fumbles for a plus-2 turnover differential.

TAKING CARE

Both teams will wear green ribbon decals on their helmets to promote mental health awareness, a topic that hits close to home for Locksley. He had a green ribbon pinned to his chest during his weekly news conference. Locksley's son, Meiko, was shot to death in 2017 in a suburb of Baltimore. He was 25. Meiko Locksley was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder several years earlier, and the case remains unsolved.

The ribbons, Locksley said, "bring some awareness to mental health and how it affects especially kids from the age of 18 to 22. This is kind of that range where you see it usually kick in. So, I know the athletic department, as well as myself and my family, are proud to take part in a game like this."

Fleck has had speaker, author and advocate Rachel Baribeau talk to his team about mental health each year he's been at Minnesota. She will attend the game, and Gophers players will go through warmups wearing T-shirts with the message, "I'm Changing The Narrative," the name of her nonprofit.

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More AP college football coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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