Maryland football will take on the Michigan State Spartans this afternoon at 4 o’clock in East Lansing with a chance to keep the dream of a five-win postseason berth alive.
The Spartans started the season unranked after a dumpster fire of a 3-9 record last year—which included a loss in College Park, in case you forgot. Under the tutelage of Mark Dantonio, though, Michigan State has returned to its winning ways this season, having climbed as high as No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and sitting at 7-3 ahead of today’s contest. The Spartans have knocked off Michigan and Penn State this season, each of which was ranked No. 7 at the time.
To learn a little more about Michigan State, we enlisted McLain Moberg from SB Nation’s The Only Colors. You can follow McLain (@MclainMoberg) or the site (@theonlycolors) on Twitter if you’d like. Our corresponding Q&A is here.
Testudo Times: A lot has changed since Michigan State's debacle of a season last year. What went wrong and what has changed?
The Only Colors: Michigan State had a lot go wrong last year. They had numerous quarterback issues. It went from Tyler O'Connor to Brian Lewerke and then Damion Terry. Sometimes Spartan fans saw all three of those guys in during the same game. Bottom line, there wasn't much consistency. On top of that the rumor is MSU had a divided locker room, guys weren't playing for one another and with the abundance of players who were dismissed from the team in the offseason it was clear that Mark Dantonio had some questionable characters on his team. Once all the negativity from the locker room left, the guys were able to come together and play as one again. Coach D also went back to doing what he does best in 2017, doing more with less, which has been one of his many trademarks throughout his tenure as a Spartan.
TT: Outside of Joe Bachie, what defensive players should Maryland fans be aware of that could contain the Terps occasionally explosive offense?
TOC: I love the Dowell brothers. Andrew and David have played well all year long and they have the ability to change games at a moments notice. Together they have a combination of 105 tackles, five interceptions, one sack, and a forced fumble. Look for these two guys to be disruptive.
TT: Conversely, who are some guys other than LJ Scott on offense who could spoil Maryland's road trip to East Lansing?
TOC: Felton Davis III. The man is a beast. Ignore how he went off against Penn State and then completely disappeared against Ohio State because I'm not sure anyone on this MSU squad showed up last Saturday. Regardless, Brian Lewerke has thrown for 16 touchdowns, and 8 of those have been caught by Davis. There are 45 catches and 586 yards to go along with his touchdowns.
The other player I would name is the quarterback himself, Brian Lewerke. It is my belief that these guys are the two most explosive players MSU has on offense and the numbers speak for themselves. Before the blowout loss to Ohio State Brian had thrown for over 400 yards in back to back weeks with a total of 6 touchdowns. If there are two players on the Spartan offense other than LJ Scott who have the ability to light up the stat sheet it's them.
TT: How do you think the Spartans can turn it around after last weekend's game?
TOC: Personally, I think Mark Dantonio is going to do everything within his power to have his team ready for kickoff like he does every week. Last week MSU laid a major egg in Columbus, but no one gave them a shot to begin with. The line opened up as OSU being 15.5-point favorites, and apparently Vegas was right again. Nine times out of 10, I think that particular game is a lot closer. Unfortunately they went in sleep walking and payed a heavy price for it. There won't be another let down this week; Terrapin fans should be ready for a show down.
TT: After turning the corner from last season, what does the future of the program look like?
TOC: The state of the Michigan State football program is fine. I feel comfortable in saying that last year was a complete anomaly. So far this year Coach D and his team have proved that it was, but it's time to finish strong and drive their point home. As long as Mark Dantonio is coaching the Spartans fans of the Green and White can rest easy.
TT: Complete this sentence: _____ will win by a score of _____ because _____.
TOC: Michigan State will win by a score of 31-17 because they will be fired up from last week’s loss. It has to be one of the biggest motivators for MSU's players who stunk up the joint last week. To go along with that, it's senior day, the last game some of these guys will play at Spartan Stadium forever. With a loud and fierce Spartan crowd backing their play, Brian Lewerke and the Spartans will rise to the occasion once again.