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Three takeaways from Maryland football’s loss to No. 8 Michigan

The Terps failed to beat another top-10 opponent.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland football was no match for No. 8 Michigan on Saturday.

Maryland gave up 24 points in the first half and then 35 in the second to fall 59-18 in College Park, moving it to 5-6 on the season with one game remaining. The Terps have won once in their last seven games.

“First off credit to them, they’re a top-10 team for a reason,” sophomore linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II said. “They have good players on both sides of the ball in all three phases.”

After losing three straight games since its three-point home win in late October against Indiana, Maryland will now have to rely on a quality season-finale performance when it takes on Rutgers. Rutgers lost to Penn State this week, meaning that it has an identical 5-6 record.

One of those programs will become bowl eligible next week with both teams competing for that sixth win.

“Disappointed for our 25 seniors that we honored on today that we weren’t able to play better for those guys,” head coach Michael Locksley said. “But as I told our team we can’t hang our heads. We got to flush this one pretty quickly because we still have a lot to play for next week going up to New Jersey with the opportunity to win six.”

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Maryland’s loss to Michigan on senior day.

Maryland’s abysmal first half sealed the game

Michigan came into Saturday’s game with the No. 2 scoring offense and No. 2 scoring defense in the Big Ten, making it clear as to why it entered College Park as double-digit favorites. It looked every part of an elite team over the course of the first 30 minutes and Maryland’s first-half performance ultimately did it in the rest of the way.

Michigan absolutely dominated in the first quarter of this one, scoring the opening 14 points of the game. It used a combination of a strong rushing and aerial attack to go up on the Terps early on.

Maryland had a decent start to the game, holding the Wolverines to a three-and-out on their first offensive possession, but a missed 48-yard field goal attempt from kicker Joseph Petrino spoiled Maryland’s good start soon after.

The Terps’ offense was not-so-stellar in the first quarter. Maryland had just 62 total yards on three drives. Credit to the Michigan defense, but the same problems on offense — drops, missed throws and penalties — stunted anything the Terps tried to do offensively as they trailed 14-0 after the first quarter.

Then early in the second quarter, Maryland finally had something progressing in Michigan’s end. However, the Terps’ typical penalty issues came back to haunt them when it mattered most. Junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa marched the offense down to the four-yard line, but a chop block, a false start then an illegal shift pushed Maryland back. It eventually settled for a field goal as the Terps couldn't manage a touchdown after a 17-play, six-and-a-half-minute drive.

Failing to convert in the red zone was just one of the issues Maryland had in the first half. With under five minutes left in the second quarter, junior Anthony Pecorella had his punt blocked, placing Michigan in Terps’ territory. The Wolverines went on to capitalize with another touchdown, extending their advantage to 21-3 before the break. A field goal in the closing moments of the half made it 24-3.

Three points from Maryland on offense and 21 points given up on defense, along with a plethora of mistakes, against a top-10 team in the nation in the first half simply just isn’t good enough to generate an upset.

The Terps’ offense was no match for Michigan’s defense

If there was anything to note of in the matchup, it was that Maryland’s offense was largely ineffective. Michigan allowed just 16.1 points per game coming into the contest and its elite defense continued over 60 minutes of play in College Park.

In the first half, where Maryland managed to put up just one field goal on its seven drives. The Terps and Tagovailoa went down the field for 62 yards in the first quarter, while barely upping that in the next frame with just 64 yards.

Maryland finished the first half with noticeable drops from the wide receivers corps and four penalties stemming from the offense. Tagovailoa was also bottled up in the passing game as well. The junior finished the first 30 minutes with 87 yards and 11 completions. The rushing game was absent too, as the Terps’ backs had a mediocre 39 yards.

Those struggles crept into the second half as well after Maryland scored three points in the first half. The Terps immediately kicked off the half with a failed fourth-down conversion, which set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Maryland did drive down the field over halfway through the third quarter, still only with three points, and senior wide receiver Carlos Carriere came away with a seven-yard touchdown from Tagovailoa to give Maryland 10 points.

“The goal is to win... cool moment that I’ll probably look back on it later on down the road, but right now the focus is just getting that sixth win man,” Carriere said about scoring a touchdown on senior day. “That’s really all I want.”

Tagovailoa added on to the Terps’ point total off a 17-yard rushing touchdown, though the game was already out of reach at that point.

Tagovailoa wasn’t able to build off his two-touchdown effort in the third quarter as he tossed a pick-six in the final minute of the quarter to give Michigan 51 points.

Maryland went on to score just 18 points in the loss and its offense didn’t show up, especially in the first half when it mattered.

Maryland fails to record a win against ranked teams in 2021

The Terps have not been able to keep up with ranked opponents this season. Every game against a top-25 opponent has made that quite evident.

Coming into the game, Maryland had faced four different ranked teams in 2021. Matchups with then-No. 5 Iowa, then-No. 7 Ohio State, then-No. 22 Penn State and then-No. 8 Michigan State all resulted in defeats for Locksley’s program that started out 4-0 to begin the season.

In those four losses, Maryland conceded an average of 47 points and 490 yards per game. Failing to record a win against a ranked team remained true for the program on Saturday afternoon.

Going back to those four losses prior to the senior day defeat, Maryland surrendered an average of 25.75 points per game after the opening 30 minutes.

The first half saw much more of the same when the Wolverines came to College Park. The Terps scored just three and surrendered 24 first-half points, which was actually the second-lowest point total it allowed a ranked team at halftime this season.

Nothing much changed in the second half, with Michigan adding on to its lead early on and then eventually closing out Maryland in the final home game in College Park for the 2021 season.

After failing to take down a top-ranked team in five tries this season, Maryland will resort to hoping for a win in the season-finale against Rutgers on Nov. 27.

“I expect this team to continue to show up like they have, as I said, we gotta flush this one quickly and find a way to go up to Rutgers and get a win,” Locksley said.