MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) @ MARYLAND TERRAPINS (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten)
WHERE: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium – College Park, Maryland
TV/RADIO: BTN/BTN2; Spartan Sports Network (Check local listings)
GAMEDAY FORECAST: Clear skies & 51 degrees at kickoff w/ winds at 16 mph
BETTING LINE: Michigan State -3
The Spartans are in a fight for their bowl game lives and they can’t afford to get caught looking ahead to an October 29th date with Michigan. Spartan quarterback play has taken much of the blame for a four-game slide but Michigan State’s issues are much deeper than that. Freshman quarterback Brian Lewerke got the start last week against Northwestern to a rousing ovation but couldn’t deliver the win. Lewerke fizzled after a fast start and oft-maligned senior Tyler O’Connor would replace him in the third quarter. O’Connor threw three touchdown passes in relief but failed to overcome the 54 points the Spartans allowed.
Unless one of these quarterbacks can block for themselves, catch their own passes, and play some defense, the Spartans need to make major improvements regardless of who is starting under center.
Maryland jumped out to a hot start against subpar competition under first-year coach D.J. Durkin before hitting a wall. The Terrapins looked adequate if untested after a 4-0 romp through the first third of their schedule but back-to-back Big Ten thumpings have all but doused the euphoria. Speaking of dousing. When it rains, it pours. Will Likely, CB and best Maryland player, will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL. The senior was one of the Big Ten’s best players and he contributed as an electric return specialist in addition to his defensive duties and occasional offensive appearances.
Everything about Maryland screams middling team at best, with the 69th-ranked offense and 36th-ranked defense. The Terrapins have found the most success on the ground with the 15th ranked rushing attack spurred by both Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson averaging over eight yards per carry. They’ve struggled through the air with both Perry Hills and Tyrrell Pigrome so it will be interesting to see how they attack a Spartan defense that has been vulnerable in the passing game.
The Terrapins 15th-ranked passing defense is sure to take a hit without Likely and the Spartans should find room to run against Maryland’s 89th-ranked run defense.