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Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) passes the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)
November 12th, 2021
Kenneth Walker III and the Michigan State Spartans will look to get back to their winning ways when they host Maryland for a Big Ten matchup on Saturday afternoon.
After starting the season 4-0, Maryland is on a real skid in Big Ten play with four defeats in their last five games. Their lone win came against Indiana, and even that was just a three-point victory that they nearly gave away. They have particularly struggled against good teams, as their games against Ohio State, Minnesota, Iowa, and Penn State saw them defeated by a combined score of 182-61.
Their passing attack has not been their problem, with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa leading the conference in passing yards, and last week he completed a career-high 41 passes for 371 yards. However, Maryland converted just four of their 15 first downs in their 31-14 defeat to Penn State and now rank eighth in the conference in third-down conversions. Their passing game ranks 16th in the nation, and they lead the conference with a passing completion percentage of 70.5%, but they struggle to run the football.
"Taulia has just been a tremendous leader on and off the field. He's definitely a person that helped change the culture around here."@tauliaa12 is at the forefront of the new era of @TerpsFootball as its QB1. #TBIA https://t.co/9JZbEEwRtZ— Maryland Terrapins (@umterps) November 12, 2021
"Taulia has just been a tremendous leader on and off the field. He's definitely a person that helped change the culture around here."@tauliaa12 is at the forefront of the new era of @TerpsFootball as its QB1. #TBIA https://t.co/9JZbEEwRtZ
The Terrapins defense allowed 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter last week after Maryland tied the game at 14 points apiece. Their defense has allowed at least 145 rushing yards in six games this season, and Big Ten opponents average over 181 yards per game on the ground against them. Turnovers have also been a huge problem, as the Terps rank 120th in the country with nearly a full turnover more per game than their opponents.
Despite beating Michigan two weeks ago, the Spartans found themselves behind their rivals in the latest college football playoff rankings. They suffered their first defeat of the season at Purdue last weekend, losing 40-29 in a game where they allowed 536 yards passing. They have now given up 942 yards passing in their last two games, and rank dead last in the nation with 327 yards passing allowed per game.
Another big issue with Michigan State’s defense is their inability to get off the field on third down, ranking dead last in the conference with 42.4% conversions allowed. Purdue went 11-of-18 last week, meaning their defensive line is under more pressure to get to Tagovailoa this week and get the Maryland offense off the field.
The Spartans are averaging nearly 200 yards rushing per contest, which has Walker salivating for a matchup with a Maryland defense that simply cannot stop the run. Additionally, wide receiver Jayden Reed will hope he can have a day like the one Jahan Dotson of Penn State had against them last weekend when he caught three touchdown passes.
Penn State's Jahan Dotson finished with a school-record 242 receiving yards vs Maryland. Dotson also tied his single-game career highs with 11 Rec and 3 TD.The previous school record for receiving yards in a game was Deon Butler in 2006 vs Northwestern (216 Rec yds). pic.twitter.com/DMxys2WbUo— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 6, 2021
Penn State's Jahan Dotson finished with a school-record 242 receiving yards vs Maryland. Dotson also tied his single-game career highs with 11 Rec and 3 TD.The previous school record for receiving yards in a game was Deon Butler in 2006 vs Northwestern (216 Rec yds). pic.twitter.com/DMxys2WbUo
One concern for Michigan State is the fact they will be without two starting offensive linemen. Guard Matt Carrick has been lost for the season, while tackle Jarrett Horst is expected to miss his second straight game. That said, I don’t expect that to be a major problem against a Maryland defense that ranks 87th in yards given up per play.
Given Michigan State’s performance against good passing attacks, I’m not sure that I trust them to cover against a team that will be able to put up points. However, I love the Over in this game. Looking at similar games for both teams, the trend is there.
Michigan State has seen a combined 139 points scored in their last two games, and in their game against pass-happy Western Kentucky, the total hit 79 points. Meanwhile, Maryland’s games against Ohio State and Iowa, the two teams on Michigan State’s level, saw a combined 148 points scored.
Michigan State should win the game, mainly because the Spartans will be able to run the ball at will on Maryland, and can try to keep their offense off the field. While the Spartans should be able to get some stops with their good defensive line, I expect both teams to stay on the attack to ensure the other team doesn’t put together a comeback.
Take the Over in this one, and buy the half point down to 60.5 just to protect against the push. For those wanting a Same Game Combo play, I like the over 60.5 combined with a Michigan State money line victory for a +130 payout.
Score prediction: Michigan State 37, Maryland 27
Our predictive engine is calling for Michigan State to win outright.
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