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The 3-2-1 Preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats, 1 best bet vs. Maryland

There’s a lot of mystery around this game. We try to clear that up.

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NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan State
Nov 18, 2017; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) runs the ball against Maryland Terrapins during the first quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve got the sense literally anything can happen this weekend.

MSU wins by 80. Maryland wins by one. The game goes to 18 overtimes. I don’t know, everything is on the table.

What I do know is this — we’ve got a 3-2-1 preview coming right at you.

3 Things We Want To See

MSU playing level-headed

We all know the week Maryland is coming off of. This will be an emotional bunch of Terrapins, and for a good reason. Now whether that’s the good or bad kind of emotion…that’s to be determined.

All MSU can do is worry about themselves. If Maryland comes out overhyped, MSU has to stay calm in the pocket and not let a hot start ruin the rest of the afternoon. If Maryland comes out and lays a dud, MSU has to stay focused enough to play the entire 60 minutes so no shenanigans happen.

Luckily, Mark Dantonio is the head coach, so this shouldn’t be a huge issue.

Jalen Nailor on special teams

The return game has been yearning for production for years, and it hasn’t really gotten any since the Keshawn Martin days (save for Connor Heyward’s Devin Hester-esque game against Minnesota last year). We saw it last week and against Indiana – when Jalen Nailor is healthy, he is straight-up lethal. His speed is one thing, but his vision is what really separates him.

Dantonio mentioned on his weekly radio show that Nailor could see time in the return game, and let’s hope it’s soon.

The same ol’ MSU defense showing up

THIS JUST IN – MSU’s run defense is elite. I know, you probably haven’t heard.

Maryland has a great running game itself, averaging 6.2 yards per carry to put them at 3rd in the nation for that category. On the flip side? They complete passes at a 52 percent rate – good for 110th in the country.

If MSU can get ahead, bottle up the run like they have been all season and force Maryland to win this game through the air…I like the Spartans chances.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2 Key Stats


That’s opponent completion percentage against the Terps defense. Maryland does do a few things well. Like, really well. One of them is defend the pass as they’re holding opponents to a 55.7 percent completion percentage, good for top ten in the entire country. That could pose a problem because, let’s face it, that MSU run game isn’t reliable enough to win a game off of. MSU needs to win the game with a solid passing attack.


That’s the cost for tickets on StubHub. On the 50 yard line. In the front row. Behind Maryland’s bench.

That screams that Saturday’s atmosphere isn’t necessarily going to be Death Valley. Maryland was never known for its strong home field advantage but, good God, $10 for 50 yard line tickets in the first row? And there’s absurd, 1930-era deals like that all over the place. This will be a friendly place for MSU to play tomorrow.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

1 Best Bet

(MSU -2.5, O/U 46)

I was not going to touch this game with a 100-yard pole. And then I started writing this preview.

Maryland’s run-dependent offense against MSU’s run defense? Maryland going from one head coach on Monday, another on Tuesday, and then back to their last one on Wednesday? Players jumping other plays? Fans selling their tickets for prices of Hot-N-Ready pizzas?

Yeah, give me the Spartans laying the points here. Dantonio does a solid job at making sure his team is emotionally prepared, and that will play a factor here on Saturday.

Record: 6-3 (thrilled to be wrong last week, to be honest)


What’s your best bet for Saturday afternoon?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    MSU -2.5
    (143 votes)
  • 8%
    Maryland +2.5
    (19 votes)
  • 4%
    Over 46
    (10 votes)
  • 20%
    Under 46
    (45 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now