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3-2-1 preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats and 1 best bet for Michigan State vs. Maryland

The quick MSU vs. Maryland preview you need in your life.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hey, thanks for being a great Michigan State fan and caring enough about the upcoming game to read this.

We’ve got a tricky one in College Park coming up — a faltering top-15 preseason team in MSU vs. a solid team known for faltering as the season goes on in Maryland. Potentially miserable weather. And a whole lot of question marks.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get to the preview.

3 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE

Any Signs Of Hope

I am at the “bargaining” step of the stages of grief. Denial was after the Washington game where I thought “Hey, maybe Washington is just really good!” Anger was after the first quarter against Minnesota where I thought “Cool, another game over in under an hour.” And now here we are, just looking for any sign of life that this season won’t be a total dumpster fire.

Can we see a glimmer of pressure in the pass rush that’s woefully struggled the last two weeks? Can we see an upgrade in the run game that’s been stalled? Can we see the quarterback play we saw in Seattle again? Can we see an opposing quarterback not have a career day against Michigan State?

Getting lambasted by Minnesota last week has me wondering if bowl eligibility will be possible this year — where are the four “automatic” wins on the schedule to get to six total wins? Home against Indiana. Maybe against Rutgers. Perhaps against Illinois.

Point blank, if MSU gets steamrolled again and looks lost in just about every facet of the game again, it’s time to move our concern to DEFCON 2.

Michigan State’s Run Game Finding Something (Anything, Really)

Point blank, it’s been a miserable showing for the run game the last two weeks. The offensive line rarely opening holes. The running backs missing the holes the few times they are open. Just generally slipping all over the field. You name it, and Michigan State’s run game has done it — or not done it, I guess? Anyway you slice it, the Spartans’ run game has averaged just 1.8 yards per carry combined the last two games.

MSU is the fifth-worst team in the nation at time of possession, averaging just 25:33 of possession per game. If Maryland’s passing game is clicking despite the storm (more on that later), the defense needs any break it can get, and establishing some sort of run game is the best way to do just that.

The Maryland We All Know And Love

We need Maryland to be vintage Maryland. The Maryland that steps on every rake possible and donates countless opportunities to its opponents.

Last week, the Terrapins kicked off the game with their kickoff returner getting pelted in the face with the ball and letting Michigan fall on it right at the 10-yard line. The Terps fell asleep on a fourth-and-1 run before halftime for a walk-in touchdown. They dropped a wide-open pass in the second half during a critical drive. They, essentially, played Maryland football.

I swear, if the Terps just took the field with plain black jerseys, they would’ve won that game. But since they were constantly reminded that they are Maryland, they fumbled and dropped and intercepted their way to the finish line.

Every sport has a team like this in every league — take the Detroit Lions, for example. A team that should be fine but never seems to get out of its own way. We need Maryland to be that team again this weekend.

2 KEY STATS

5.5 YPC

That is Maryland’s yards per carry this season, which is good for fourth-best in the Big Ten. On the flip side, Michigan State’s defense is holding opponents to 3.4 yards per carry, which is right in the middle of the conference pack.

Now, why is this arguably the most important stat? Because thanks to Hurricane Ian, College Park will be looking to get rain and 15-20 mile-per-hour winds throughout the afternoon. Kind of tough conditions to throw the ball in.

Maryland put up gaudy rushing numbers against lesser opponents in Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU and fared just decent against Michigan last week, going for 3.8 yards per carry.

Should the weather be as brutal as many are calling it to be, Maryland’s run offense versus MSU’s solid run defense could make the difference on Saturday.

100 percent

That’s Maryland kicker Chad Ryland’s field goal percentage, and these ain’t chip shots either.

Last week, he buried two field goals on the road that were 53 and 52 yards. He’s also made of his field goals attempts from 40-49 yards and added a 36-yarder to his total too. Point blank, this guy is one of the nation’s best kickers.

We’ll see how much wind effects the decisions to go for it on fourth down in field goal range, but regardless, if it is a low-scoring game it could very well come down to field goals, and the Eastern Michigan transfer has been perfect thus far.

1 Best Bet

Michigan State +7.5, over/under 60

The dream of a perfect season died last week as MSU did not help our cause in chasing the over.

I’m going to take the under here and go full caveman logic.

Weather is bad. Bad weather means bad throwing. Bad throwing means bad scoring. Bad scoring means low points.

Makes sense to me, LET’S GIVE ‘ER A TRY!

Pick: Under 60

Record: 3-1

Poll

What is your best bet for Saturday afternoon?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    MSU +7.5
    (20 votes)
  • 41%
    Maryland -7.5
    (64 votes)
  • 3%
    Over 60
    (5 votes)
  • 42%
    Under 60
    (66 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now