Michigan State will look to bounce back from the team’s first loss of the season last weekend with a home game against Maryland. The Spartans had two games with the Terps canceled last year due to COVID-19, so the teams have not met since 2019. Let’s take a look at the Turtles from Under Armour Land.
School: University of Maryland
Conference: Big Ten (East Division)
Location: College Park, Maryland
Head Coach: Mike Locksley (third season, 11-21)
Record: 5-4 (2-4 in Big Ten)
All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 9-2 and has won five of six since Maryland joined Big Ten
Maryland started the year 4-0, with wins over West Virginia and at Illinois. The Terrapins were then plastered in their next three games against Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota, being outscored 151 to 47 in those three games. They were able to eke out a win at home against Indiana before falling to Penn State 31-14 last week.
Maryland checks in at 73rd nationally in scoring offense, at 27.6 points per game. However, in Big Ten play, the only team the Terps scored more than 20 points against was Indiana two weeks ago.
The Terps are not going to beat you on the ground. Maryland is 112th in total rushing offense at 113.67 yards per game, and 109th in yards per carry at 3.44 yards per attempt.
Through the air it is a different story. Maryland is 14th in total passing offense at 316.1 yards per game. It is 12th in passing attempts per game, throwing the ball over 39 times per contest. The Terrapins are relatively efficient as well, ranking 41st in yards per attempt, and have 19 passing touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
Despite throwing as much as they do, the Terps are only allowing 1.89 sacks per game.
Defensively, Maryland can be had. It is 96th in scoring defense, allowing 30.4 points per game. The Terrapins are allowing an average of over 43 points per game in the last five games.
Against the run, Maryland is 69th in the country at 153.44 yards per game. The Terps are 71st in rushing average at 4.07 yards per rush, and have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns on the year.
Much like Michigan State, Maryland will give up yards through the air. The Terrapins are 102nd in total passing defense, allowing 255 yards per game, and are 97th in passing average at 7.9 yards per attempt. The Terps have allowed 15 passing touchdowns with four interceptions on the year.
Maryland can get after the quarterback a little, though, ranking 25th in the country with 26 sacks.
Players to Watch
The big name on the team is quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, brother of Tua. The younger Tagovailoa has thrown for 2,755 yards on 8.1 yards per attempt with a completion rate of over 70 percent. He has 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Unlike his older brother, he is more of a pocket threat and not really a runner, so that helps.
In the ground game, Tayon Fleet-Davis leads the team in rushing with 436 yards and six touchdowns. He is also fourth on the team with 25 catches for 234 yards and a score.
The two big receivers are Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus Jr., both over 500 yards on the year. Jarrett has a team high 37 receptions and five touchdowns to go with his 533 receiving yards. Demus leads the team with an average of 18.11 yards per catch and is second with 507 yards, but is out for the season and will not play against Michigan State.
Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo is second on the team in receptions with 32, and also has three scores.
On the defensive side, a pair of seniors lead the way up front. Greg Rose and Sam Okuayinonu each have five sacks to lead the team. Okuayinonu leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss as well and is third on the team in total tackles.
Junior lineman Mosiah Nasili-Kite is second on the team in tackles for loss with six, and has four sacks of his own.
Senior defensive back Jordan Mosley leads the team in tackles and has five pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
Fellow defensive back Jakorian Bennett has 10 pass breakups and two interceptions.
Senior kicker Joseph Petrino is 10-for-14 on field goals this year, and 26-for-28 on extra points.
Maryland has used a couple different punters this year, and both are averaging right around 45 yards per punt.
So that’s the skinny on Maryland. The Terrapins throw the ball a lot and are pretty good at it, which doesn’t match up well for MSU. However, the Maryland defense has been lousy, so the Spartans should be able to move the ball. The key for MSU will be playing a much cleaner game in pass defense than they did last week. The tackling must be better, and they must find ways to get off the field on third down.
Maryland is 81st in third down conversions at 38.84 percent. The Terps are also 116th in red zone conversions, and 110th in red zone touchdown percentage. That is an area Michigan State has been very good at for most of the year, and if the Spartans can do it again on Saturday, MSU should be able to walk away victorious.