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2021 Big Ten Opponent Preview: Maryland Terrapins

MSU faces the Terrapins for the first time since 2019 after the game was cancelled twice in 2020.

Michigan State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Up today in the preseason Big Ten opponent previews is the Maryland Terrapins. After the matchup was cancelled twice in 2020 due to COVID-19 issues among Maryland’s roster, the Spartans will face off against the fellow East Division foe for the first time since 2019. The Spartans currently hold a three-game win streak over the Terps, and are 5-1 against Maryland since UMD joined the Big Ten in 2014.

To help us learn more about Maryland, Dylan Spilko, deputy editor of Testudo Times — the quintessential website for all things Maryland — has provided in-depth answers about what to expect from the Terps in 2021.

With that introduction done, let’s jump right into it.

List your team’s key departures:

  • Jake Funk (Running back, was the clear-cut starter - drafted in 2021 NFL draft by LA Rams)
  • Shaq Smith (Linebacker, only played one game but was solid depth player)
  • Antwaine Richardson (Defensive back, appeared in all five games last season and started two at safety)
  • Chance Campbell (linebacker - Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, 12th in FBS and second in Big Ten with 11.0 tackles per game)
  • Johnny Jordan (Offensive line, transferred out of the program, was a good starter)

List your team’s key returnees:

  • Nick Cross (Defensive back, 2021 Pro Football Focus Preseason Second Team All-Big Ten, 2020 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten)
  • Taulia Tagovailoa (Quarterback, was slightly inconsistent last year, but has the tools to break out in a huge way this season)
  • Rakim Jarrett (Wide receiver, former five-star recruit, has a shot to be All-Big Ten this season if he hits his peak)
  • Dontay Demus Jr. (Wide receiver, top receiver on the team)
  • Mosiah Nasili-Kite (Defensive line, Maryland’s top guy on the defensive line)

List a few true freshmen or transfers that will make an instant impact:

  • Terrence Lewis (Linebacker, five-star recruit)
  • Demeioun Robinson (Edge rusher, four-star recruit, top-ranked player in Maryland)
  • Colby McDonald/Roman Hemby (Both running backs, have impressed in preseason and could see time on the field)
  • Taizse Johnson (Defensive lineman, one of Maryland’s top recruits)
  • Branden Jennings (Linebacker, one of Maryland’s top recruits as well)

Brief overview of 2021 team:

It should be a very interesting year for Maryland football. The program played just five total games last year, which was the least in the Big Ten. This year the team is bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the conference and in the nation — so it is looking like a year of promise. The offense has a ton of returning pieces at wide receiver and quarterback and should have plenty of chemistry from last season. The defense is also looking much better this year, there’s lots of depth. With 12 games on the schedule, I would say the team should hover around or even above the .500 mark.

What’s your team’s biggest strength?

Either the team’s wide receiver/quarterback combination or the linebackers. I would say it is arguably the linebackers because of the immense amount of talent the team is bringing in.

What’s your team’s biggest weakness?

Discipline. Maryland was one of the most heavily penalized teams in the Big Ten last season (8.8 penalties per game in 2020).

How does your fanbase feel about your coach and his staff?

Head coach Mike Locksley is a highly-regarded coach. The players seem to love him and his positive attitude ripples through the fan base.

Who is your team’s MVP this season and why?

Taulia Tagovailoa. If he breaks out this year and shows consistency, Maryland’s offense will break out with him.

Predict your team’s record, its best win, and a potential surprise loss:

Record: 6-6. Best win against Penn State on Nov. 6. Potential surprise loss against Michigan State on Nov. 13.

What else should we know about your team this year?

It might be another year of growing pains for Maryland football. The potential is there, but it is yet to be seen if this roster can get it done.

Thank you to Dylan for giving us a great picture on the Terps, and if you could bring some quality crab cakes with you to the tailgate in East Lansing, we would really appreciate that. You can follow more from Dylan here, and you can follow Testudo Times on Twitter here, which is the quintessential one stop shop for Maryland news.