On the surface, we see two teams trending in vastly different directions. Let's start with Michigan.
The Wolverines are back in the AP Top 25 poll after blanking ranked BYU 31-0. They have been getting better each week and it has become clear that their identity as a team is going to be playing great defense and pounding the ball on offense. Their lone loss to Utah in the season opener actually looks decent considering the monstrosity the Utes just unleashed against Oregon in Eugene last week.
Then there is Maryland. After getting blasted by three touchdowns at home by Bowling Green, the Terps responded by comfortably beating South Florida. Maryland then hit the road for their first road test of the season against West Virginia. They failed in ways that were both miserable and spectacular. The Mountaineers spanked the Terps, 45-6, in a game that was over by halftime. Caleb Rowe, who has thrown an NCAA-leading nine interceptions, was benched and Daxx Garman saw his first action of the season.
This game was originally scheduled to be played at night but Hurricane Joaquin forced the game to be moved up to a noon kickoff. The rainy conditions and somewhat strong winds indicate that both teams will look to establish the run early and often. The problem for Maryland is that they are not a team that is built to effectively run the ball 40 times. Michigan, however, is.
The Wolverines are big on both sides of the line but their defensive front seven is one of the best in the Big Ten. It has been instrumental in their turn-around and they will probably have their way with Maryland's offensive line for most of the game. Maryland's defense has picked up 17 sacks this year but they have not faced an offensive line like Michigan's yet.
Since the weather will be cold and rainy, I expect to see a lot of carries. The game will be won on the line of scrimmage. Michigan is built for success in this kind of environment. I don't think that Maryland is. Caleb Rowe might not get much of a chance to attack down the field with the wind gusts but if he doesn't play well, Randy Edsall will have no choice but to replace him with Garman.
It definitely isn't a healthy sign when you have had three different quarterbacks play for you in a season and you haven't even started your fifth game yet. That is the situation that Maryland finds itself in.
The Terrapins will be wearing the new Black Ops 2.0 uniforms with hand-painted helmets. They will look great but as my colleague Alex Kirshner notes, Maryland does not play well in blackout games. The Terps must move the ball and put points up against Michigan's stingy defense. If not, Maryland will be in for another very long day.
Rankings and records:
#22 Michigan: 3-1 (0-0)
Maryland: 2-2 (0-0)
All-time record: Michigan leads the all-time series, 3-1, but this is the first time in the series that Michigan will play Maryland on the road. Maryland won their first game in the series last year, 23-16, in Ann Arbor.
Vegas: Vegas Insider has Michigan as heavy favorites. The line, as of Friday afternoon, is Michigan (-14.5). Vegas thinks that Maryland can't keep the score to within two touchdowns and over 75 percent of the money is on the Wolverines.
How to witness
October 3rd, noon (ET), College Park
TV: BTN. Justin Kutcher will be on play by play and Petros Papadakis will be the color analyst.
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network - Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play), Tim Strachan (Analyst), Scott McBrien (Sideline); Flagships - WJZ-FM (105.7) / WJZ-AM (1300) / ESPN 980 (D.C.) Sirius 135, XM 195, and SiriusXM 195.
You can also hear the game on WMUC Sports Radio here.
Online streaming: The game will be streamed live on BTN2Go at noon (ET). Justin Kutcher will be on play by play and Petros Papadakis will be the color analyst.