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Maryland vs. Michigan State preview: Breaking down the numbers

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Maryland has another shot at taking down a ranked team - this time the foe is Michigan State in a primetime matchup.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Following Maryland sports has its ups and downs, but is guaranteed to be a rollercoaster ride.  After the high of beating Penn. St. in Happy Valley, Maryland's best play maker, Stefon Diggs, was suspended for a game.  Then the Sun reported that Diggs would be out for the rest of the regular season.  The Terps still have a realistic chance of finishing the season 8-4, but without Diggs the chances of that happening have diminished.  The good news is that Jacquille Veii, who replaces Diggs as the slot receiver, is a budding play maker in his own right.

It is no secret that Maryland has not fared well against quality opponents this season, and the Terps will be welcoming yet another top 15 team to Byrd Stadium Saturday in the form of Michigan St.  To get a feel for what to expect, let's take a look at some numbers

Maryland Offense vs. Michigan St. Defense (all statistics are per game)

Points

Total Yards

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Passing yards

Completion Percentage

Rushing yards

Turnovers

Maryland Offense

30.3

353.9

33%

27:59

228

55%

125.9

1.88

MSU Defense

23.4

311.4

32%

24:35

196.9

52%

114.6

2.66

Michigan St. is loaded with veteran players on defense - only two underclassmen start.  The Spartan's defense does not have any obvious weaknesses.  Leading the way are safeties Kurtis Drummond and RJ Williamson, the leading tacklers on the squad.  The player to watch on the line is defensive end Shilique Calhoun, who teams the team in sacks with 6.5, and TFL with 10.  Linebacker Ed Davis is just as talented as Calhoun at getting into the backfield, notching 10 TFL to go along with 6 sacks on the season.

Thus far Maryland has faced four of the top six defenses in the Big Ten (based on total defense).  Over the next two weeks, the Terps will face the rest of the top six in Michigan St. and Michigan.  Against the top defenses in the league, Maryland averages only 22 points per game.  As conference play has gone on, Maryland's offense has slowly lost their potency.  Over the last two games, Maryland has racked only 5 gains of 20+ yards - with the longest gain going for 27 yards.  The loss of Diggs certainly will not help this offense find explosive plays.

Maryland Defense vs. Michigan St. Offense

Points

Total Yards

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Passing yards

Completion percentage

Rushing yards

Turnovers per game

MSU Offense

44.6

517.6

48%

35:25

271.2

61%

246.3

1.1

Maryland  Defense

28.1

431.8

39%

32:01

238.3

54%

193.4

2

I don't have much to say here.  Maryland is probably going to give up a lot of points on Saturday.  The Terps need to force some turnovers and otherwise just hope to slow down Connor Cook and company.

Special Teams

Field goals

Field goal conversion %

Punts per game (net)

Penalties per game

Return Yards (Punt/KO)

Maryland

14-14

100%

7.1 (34.7)

5.8 (56.2 YPG)

13.1 / 22.8

MSU

8-14

57%

4.2 (35.4)

6.1 (59.9 YPG)

5.6 / 21.1

With Stefon Diggs likely out for the season, Will Likely will take over all kick returning duties.  This is probably not a bad thing, as Likely is elusive and difficult to bring down in the open field.  Additionally, the Terps have an advantage on the field goal kicking front.  Michigan State's  Michael Geiger is only converting 57% of the time, and has a long of only 42 yards on the season.  If Maryland has any advantages, it's in the field goal kicking game

Conclusion

Even the most optimistic Maryland fan probably can't find much to like in this match up.  Thus far the Terps have struggled to keep up with more talented squads.  Maryland sits as a 10.5-12 point underdog, and I don't think the Terps will cover.  Michigan State 55 - Maryland 17

Sources: umterps.com; msuspartans.com