For the third consecutive season, Maryland football began the season 3-0 when it defeated former ACC rival Virginia last Friday, 42-14.
As it did so in the previous week against Charlotte, Maryland again started slow and fell to a swift 14-0 deficit. But then, freshman Braeden Wisloski returned a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown and sparked life into the Terps’ sideline. Five more touchdowns later, Maryland was in the win column again.
Maryland will now begin Big Ten play when it hits the road Saturday to take on Michigan State. The Terps are 3-6 in their last nine road conference games.
Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Terps are 7.5-point favorites (-305 moneyline). The game has an over/under of 52.5 total points.
Michigan State Spartans (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
2022 record: 5-7 (3-6 Big Ten)
Interim coach Harlon Barnett took over as acting head coach following the suspension and eventual termination of Mel Tucker amid a sexual harassment investigation. Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract in 2021 after the Spartans posted an 11-win season, the highest single-season win total in six years. Now, the future of Michigan State football is anything but certain.
Barnett is in his second stint with the Spartans. From 2007-2017, he served as Michigan State’s secondary coach, then spent two seasons at Florida State as its defensive coordinator before returning to East Lansing in 2020.
The Spartans dominated their first two games of the season — defeating Central Michigan and Richmond by an average of 27.5 points — before No. 8 Washington whooped them at home last week, 41-7.
Players to watch
Noah Kim, redshirt junior quarterback, No. 10 – Kim replaced Payton Thorne, now Auburn’s quarterback, this season. He ranks fifth in the Big Ten in passing yards (707) and third in passing touchdowns (5), tied with Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa. However, Kim struggled in his first real test, going 12-for-31 with an interception against Washington. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Katin Houser late in the game.
Nate Carter, redshirt sophomore running back, No. 5 – Carter transferred from UConn in January and is now the Spartans’ bell cow in the backfield. He ranks third in the conference with 272 rushing yards — no other Spartan has more than 45 — to go along with four touchdowns on five yards per carry.
Cal Haladay, redshirt junior linebacker, No. 27 – Haladay is one of the leaders on Michigan State’s defense. Last season, he ranked first in the Big Ten in tackles per game (10.0), contributing 11 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Haladay has taken a bit of a step back this year, averaging just 7.3 tackles per game, but still has the potential to be a game-wrecker.
Jacoby Windmon, redshirt senior linebacker, No. 4 – Windmon was on pace for a historic season last year, but was suspended for the final four games following the team’s infamous tunnel fight against Michigan. In his first year at Michigan State, Windmon totaled 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and six forced fumbles — which led the FBS — in just eight games. This season, Windmon has tallied 15 total tackles, two of those for loss, and a sack.
Defensive line. Per usual, Michigan State’s defensive front is one of the best in the Big Ten. The Spartans rank second in the conference with 10 total sacks, and six players have at least two tackles for loss. The defense as a whole was exposed against Washington, but will look to regain its footing this weekend.
“They always have a good defense. A bend-don’t-break type of defense,” Tagovailoa said. “... they got good size and strength in the box with the front seven.”
Running the ball. The Spartans rank second-to-last in the Big Ten with 114 rushing yards per game, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. While this may be deflated by their 53-yard performance against Washington, running back depth behind Carter is an issue.
Three things to watch
1. Maryland’s first real test. Outside of the first quarters against Charlotte and Virginia, Maryland has not faced much of a challenge thus far. However, in a hostile environment against a team that beat them two years ago, the Terps have an opportunity to prove their legitimacy.
2. Can Maryland’s offensive line withstand Michigan State’s defensive front? The Terps’ offensive line has been a common talking point this season. Neither of their first three opponents had a stout defensive front, yet the unit still looked shaky. With Gottlieb Ayedze back in the rotation and continuity progressing, Maryland’s offensive line could either silence doubters or confirm looming concerns Saturday.
3. How will Michigan State respond? In the first game since the departure of Tucker, the Spartans were manhandled by Washington. With Maryland, a more comparable team, traveling to East Lansing and another week to adjust, the Spartans should play better.
“I told our team, ‘What we saw on tape a week ago will not be the team we face on Saturday because now they’ll have a little more time now to kind of galvanize,’” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said. “I would expect that they’ll do a tremendous job of coming together. We’ve seen that here in our program before. When a team comes together and they take on that us versus the world mentality. So we expect to get their best on Saturday.”
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