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Spartan Football Playback: Michigan State vs. Maryland (2018)

Strong performances from the defense and Connor Heyward helped the Spartans become bowl eligible in 2018.

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

Opponent: Maryland Terrapins

Date: Nov. 3, 2018

Location: Maryland Stadium, College Park, Maryland

Final Score: 24-3, Michigan State

All-time Matchup Record: Michigan State leads 10-2

As the leaves start to turn, so does the Michigan State Spartans’ 2022 season — unfortunately in the wrong direction. Regardless of preseason goals being virtually washed away, there are things that can happen to avoid a crash landing for the season.

This year is starting to look a bit like 2016 — one of the more forgettable years in MSU’s history that was plagued by injuries, inconsistent quarterback play and an inability to adjust schemes mid-season. That squad also started the season 2-0 (including an impressive road victory at Notre Dame) only to lose nine of its final 10 games.

We’ll see what kind of changes come from the tough start, but it does seem like head coach Mel Tucker may be more prone to adjust things quicker than Mark Dantonio. The Spartans still carry one of the better recruiting classes for 2023 that is somewhat derived from momentum carried over from the 2021 season. It will be important to show those youngsters they can steady the ship.

Michigan State now prepares to head to Maryland, which gave Michigan all kinds of troubles last week in Ann Arbor. With a balanced offense from the Terrapins led by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the Spartans’ defensive backs will once again have their hands full. Don’t expect to see too many changes in terms of personnel to begin the game for MSU, but the quarterback situation will be something to watch if Payton Thorne starts slow. Backup quarterback Noah Kim entered the game for the last drive versus Minnesota last Saturday and led the team down the field for the Spartans’ only touchdown of the day.

It’s easy to think a quarterback change can shift the direction of a team, but the Spartans’ struggles extend beyond the signal-caller, and Thorne should remain the starter for now. MSU will have to show resilience to get back on track this week versus a solid Maryland team, though.

2018 Game Recap

Getting into this week’s playback, the 2018 “Connor Heyward game” (proclaimed by me) in College Park helped Michigan State become bowl eligible for the 11th time in 12 years, the only exception was a 3-9 stumble in the aforementioned 2016 season.

Michigan State capped a rough stretch for the unsettled Maryland football program, delivering a tough defensive performance on the way to a 24-3 victory for the Spartans. The loss for Maryland followed the reinstatement, then dismissal, of head coach D.J. Durkin over the span of just two days. The Terrapins were led by interim coach Matt Canada for this game.

The Spartans scored on the team’s first possession, thanks to an 18-yard run from Heyward. Michigan State then added a first-quarter field goal from Matt Coghlin and went up 17-3 in the third quarter when Max Rosenthal jumped on a Heyward fumble in the end zone.

Maryland’s effort to come back was foiled by two fourth-quarter turnovers. Javon Leake lost a fumble on the MSU 26-yard-line and Byron Cowart fumbled on an interception return with the Spartans recovering in the end zone for a touchback. On the next play, Heyward ran for an 80-yard touchdown for a 24-3 lead with 11 minutes left. That same score would later go final.