The Maryland Terrapins (2-7, 0-5) are now looking to break their six game losing streak against No. 14 Michigan State (8-1, 4-1) after suffering the 31-24 loss to Wisconsin, knocking the Terps out of bowl eligibility. Despite that, interim head coach Mike Locksley believes that his team has a core that could be a title contender according to Maryland 247 Sports writer Josh Stirn.
"I really feel this could be a nucleus for a team that will contend for a Big Ten championship. They’ve got to continue to prepare and give the effort of that type of team," Locksley said.
"If they continue to prepare and play with great effort, then I won’t let the scoreboard define us having success. I’ll judge those guys on those two things alone. The winning usually takes care of itself when you go out and prepare for your opponent, and then you go out and execute and play with great effort. Those are the things they’ve continue to do throughout the course of the last six weeks -- or the last three weeks for me -- so as long as they’re giving me those things, I’ll say we’ve had a successful year," he said.
If the Maryland Terrapins can have a good run the rest of the season, they won't be bowl eligible but their confidence going into next season will grow.
Now onto the matchups Maryland needs to win to upset Michigan State.
#1. Will Likely vs Aaron Burbridge
Likely will be facing Michigan State's No. 1 guy at wide receiver in Aaron Burbridge who only needs six yards to reach 1,000 yards receiving for the season. He has also visited the end zone six times. Burbridge also has a height advantage on Likely seeing has he is 6'1 to Likely's 5'7 frame. That's never stopped him from excelling against his matchups. Burbridge is going to get the six yards without a doubt but look for Likely to be physical with Burbridge. It would make sense, why give him a cushion and play off of him in coverage?
#2. Yannick Ngakue/Roman Braglio vs Jack Conklin
Yannick Ngakue is Maryland's sack leader and best pass rusher with 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Roman Braglio was hampered by injury this season but has still been able to be productive with 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks to his name.
Either of these two or both may see time against Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin who has only allowed 2.5 sacks in his his career (27 games) and is named 10th best player with the best intangibles among college football's top players by NFL.com's Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. He is also listed as the 6th best offensive tackle in the nation to watch in 2015, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com and named top offensive lineman in the Big Ten by Josh Moyer of ESPN.com.
So it's safe to say this guy is a brick wall at 6'6 325lbs. If anyone can get by him though and put pressure on Connor Cook, it's Yannick Ngakue. I like his chances. We'll see what Defensive Coordinator Keith Dudzinski decides to do here but it should definitely be a great matchup.
#3. Perry Hills vs MSU Secondary
It seems like every game the goal for Perry Hills more than ever is to not turn the ball over. He's thrown 11 interceptions on the year and now he's facing a defense in Michigan State that hasn't intercepted the ball that much with only nine picks on the season. However, they still have a solid defense that I'm sure will be out to prove something after suffering that 39-38 loss to Nebraska. Hills needs to be ready.