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Maryland vs. Michigan preview: Terps look for upset victory to stop spiral

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This is going to be a tough stretch.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a 45-6 beatdown at the hands of West Virginia, Maryland welcomes Michigan to College Park Saturday for Jim Harbaugh's Big Ten debut. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 12 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.

The S&P+ rankings predict Maryland will lose its next six games by at least a dozen points. Things are going to get worse before (if?) they get better. This will be an exceedingly tough matchup for a struggling Terrapins team, facing a Michigan squad that has played in the 97th percentile in each of its last three games.

Jim Harbaugh took over his alma mater this season after four years in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. A former Michigan QB and first round pick that spent more than a decade in the NFL, Harbaugh coached under his father at Western Kentucky and helped coach Rich Gannon to an MVP award while with the Raiders. At his first head coaching job, Harbaugh turned the University of San Diego into a strong FCS program and helped mold quarterback Josh Johnson into an NFL product. Harbaugh oversaw Stanford's transformation from Pac-12 laughingstock to national power, and went 44-19-1 in his time with the 49ers.

No. 22 Michigan Wolverines (3-1)

2014 record: 5-7

Head coach: Jim Harbaugh (3-1, 61-28 career)

All-time record vs. Maryland: 3-1

F/+ ranking: 16 (Maryland is 81)

5-year recruiting ranking: 11

Players to know

Jake Rudock, QB, senior, 6'3, 208. A transfer from Iowa (y'all might remember Maryland beating him last year), Rudock's completion rate is slightly up and his sack rate is slightly down, but he's throwing interceptions at an alarming rate (five through four games, as many as he had last year).

Ty Isaac, RB, junior, 6'3, 240. A transfer from USC, Isaac's not the feature running back for the Wolverines but has been the most explosive weapon out of the backfield this year, averaging 8.5 yards per carry. De'Veon Smith has been a solid workhorse (while Derrick Green isn't having a great year), and Michigan's running game has been the best part of its offense.

Jake Butt, TE, junior, 6'6, 248. Harbaugh loves using tight ends in his offense (four different ones have gotten involved in the offense this year), and he has one of the best in the country in Butt.

Chris Wormley, DE, senior, 6'3, 300. One of seven upperclassmen manning a terrifying Michigan defensive line, Wormley has seven tackles for a loss and a forced fumble through four games. His partner off the edge, senior Mario Ojemudia, has 4.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks this year.

Joe Bolden, LB, senior, 6'3, 232. The team's leading tackler Bolden has 19.5 stops (10.8% of the team's total) and a fumble recovery this year.

Jabril Peppers, S, sophomore, 6'1, 205. One of the most exciting young players in the Big Ten, the former five-star recruit has gotten off to a hot start this season and has three tackles for a loss out of the defensive backfield.

Strengths:

Rush defense. Michigan has a talented, productive front seven, and they've been absolutely dynamite against opponent rushing attacks this year. The Wolverines rank 10th in rushing S&P+ and have yet to allow more than 3.4 yards per carry in a game.

Preventing explosive plays. Which is really bad news for the Maryland offense, which relies almost entirely on explosive plays to make up for its inefficiency.

Weaknesses:

Explosive plays of their own. The passing game isn't providing much in terms of explosive plays (No. 95 in Passing IsoPPP), and while the rushing game is doing better, there are still a lot of carries going to Not Ty Isaac.

Uh, I don't know, they were bad last year? Yeah, let's go with that.

Predictions:

S&P+ prediction: Michigan 34.3, Maryland 15.5. 86% chance Michigan wins.

My prediction: Michigan 24, Maryland 12

Your predictions: