The Maryland football team finally suffered its first loss of the 2016 season, falling 38-14 Saturday at Penn State. After winning big against Purdue in their conference opener, the Terps couldn’t keep up with the Nittany Lions.
From the very beginning, this game was different. Penn State might not be any kind of juggernaut, but the Nittany Lions are still on another level from the competition Maryland had previously faced this season.
Penn State overwhelmed Maryland’s front seven all day. The Terps were unable to contain the Nittany Lions’ rushing attack, as running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley consistently gashed the defense for big gains. McSorley only completed 10 of his 19 passes for 152 yards through the air, but he did what he needed. That included a 70-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Thompkins at the end of the third quarter that solidified Penn State’s lead.
Barkley accumulated 202 rushing yards on the day, constantly sprinting past Maryland defenders. The Terps had a tough time tackling him, and plays like this show why:
The game was close in the first half, as Maryland hit back after an early Penn State touchdown. After looking punchless on the team’s first drive, Perry Hills hit Ty Johnson for a 66-yard score on this screen pass to get Maryland right back in it.
Hills was 5-for-7 for 72 yards passing before he went out with an injury in the second quarter. He had two turnovers that hurt the Terps, but both came after missed blocks in pass protection. Hills threw his second interception of the year as he was getting hit, and fumbled in the second quarter when Koa Farmer crushed him as he dropped back to throw.
Hills suffered the injury on an inside run late in the first half and never returned. In came freshman Tyrrell Pigrome, who was forced to try to bring the Terps back. In his first extended meaningful action, Pigrome was 5-of-9 through the air with 39 yards rushing. He ran for a touchdown from seven yards out on his first snap of the game and helped march the Terps down the field a few times in the second half, but Maryland’s offense was still helpless for large stretches.
The Terps’ halftime deficit looked to be a manageable 17-14, but Barkley ran for a 45-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half to make it 24-14 going into the break.
Maryland’s offense couldn’t get anything going in the second half after having some success in the first. That, combined with an inability to stop Barkley and McSorley, spelled doom for the Terps.
Once McSorley hit the 70-yarder to Thompkins, though, this was over. A rushing touchdown for Miles Sanders further cemented Penn State’s win.
Three things to know
- This is likely the type of game you’ll see from Maryland for the rest of the season. Things were easy against teams like Purdue and FIU, but most conference teams that aren’t Rutgers will be tough. Wins won’t be easy, and they won’t necessarily be pretty.
- Maryland couldn’t contain Penn State’s rushing attack. Barkley is one of the most-feared backs in the nation, and against Maryland’s defense, he showed why. McSorley also had a huge day on the ground, as the Terps couldn’t catch him whether he was keeping the ball on a read-option or scrambling.
- This was disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. These two teams came in with about an equal chance of winning. S&P+ gave the Terps a 43 percent chance of bringing home a victory, so this loss isn’t outrageous. Still, it’s okay to be pretty disappointed. This was arguably the most-hyped game on Maryland’s schedule, and the Terps didn’t play well.