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Maryland football vs. Michigan preview

The Terps come out of the bye week to visit the No. 15 Wolverines.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

After a weekend with no football game, Maryland returns to the gridiron Saturday. The Terps emerge from their bye week 3-1, but with a visit to Michigan next on the slate.

Maryland’s last outing might feel like it was months ago, but the Terps are coming off a 42-13 drubbing of Minnesota. That performance was a 180 from the prior Saturday against Temple, when Maryland didn’t score an offensive point in a 14-0 loss.

This weekend’s test, however, is easily Maryland’s toughest so far this season. Michigan is ranked 15th in the AP Poll and No. 7 by S&P+. The Terps won the first Big Ten matchup between these teams, but the Wolverines have taken three straight, including a 59-3 annihalation in the Big House two years ago.

Michigan started its season with a 24-17 loss at Notre Dame—who’s undefeated and currently ranked No. 6 in the country—before reeling off four straight wins, including easy victories over Western Michigan, SMU and Nebraska. The Wolverines started slow last week, falling behind 17-0 to Northwestern, but grinded out a 20-17 win, their third-largest comeback ever.

It’s Homecoming in Ann Arbor, and the game will kick off at noon ET on ABC.

No. 15 Michigan Wolverines (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten)

2017 record: 8-5, 5-4

Head coach Jim Harbaugh came to Michigan after four years at Stanford and four years with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s in his fourth season at his alma mater, and despite a 32-12 record in Ann Arbor, he’s still seeking his first Big Ten East crown with the Wolverines. Harbaugh was a star quarterback at Michigan and played 15 seasons in the NFL before starting his coaching career. There’s a lot more to write about him, but this isn’t the space.

Players to know

Shea Patterson, junior, QB, 6’2/205, No. 2. After two years at Ole Miss, Patterson transferred to Michigan and was ruled eligible for this season. The former five-star recruit has brought stability to a position that had been the Wolverines’ bah-humbug for years. He’s completed 76 of 111 passes (68.5 percent) with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s thrown for just 905 yards through five games, but the Wolverines haven’t needed much more from him.

Karan Higdon, senior, RB, 5’10/202, No. 22. Higdon split carries with Chris Evans last season, but has been the workhorse this year, totaling 479 rushing yards and five touchdowns despite missing Michigan’s game against SMU. The senior has scored in every contest, and in his last three games, he’s run for 156, 136 and 115 yards.

Chase Winovich, RS senior, DE, 6’3/255, No. 15. The Wolverines defense includes standouts like linebacker Devin Bush, defensive tackle Rashan Gary and defensive back Josh Metellus, but Winovich and his hair lead the nation with 10.5 tackles for loss this season and have a team-high three sacks. Matt Canada spoke glowingly of Winovich at his press conference this week—”I have a tremendous amount of respect for that young man,” he said. “He plays so hard.”


Defense. The Wolverines’ 232.6 yards allowed per game is the best mark in the country. They’re holding opponents to 5.1 yards per pass and 2.4 yards per rush, and their total yards per game in those categories rank fourth and seventh in the nation, respectively. No opponent has totaled more than 319 yards of offense against Michigan, and the Wolverines held Northwestern to 202 last weekend.


Passing explosiveness. If this sounds too specific, it probably is. Michigan’s offense ranks 27th in S&P+ while the defense is No. 4 and the special teams are No. 9. The Wolverines’ attack is as balanced as it’s been in years. But they rank 72nd nationally in passing explosiveness, which means more simply that they haven’t generated too many big plays through the air. Even so, Patterson and star wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones are dangerous at all times, and any defensive lapse can be taken advantage of.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland establish the run? Even with Harrison and Funk out, the ground game is Maryland’s biggest strength when it’s working. The Terps ran for 315 yards and four scores against Minnesota, but struggled in the opener against Texas’ rush defense. Michigan’s is even better. In the last two weeks, the Wolverines have allowed a combined 67 yards on 64 carries to Nebraska and Northwestern.

2. Does Rashan Gary make an impact? Harbaugh said during the week that the junior defensive tackle was “questionable” for Saturday’s game. If he’s healthy, Gary presents a challenge unlike anyone Maryland’s offensive line has faced this season. If he’s out, the Wolverines’ run defense looks a little less daunting.

3. How do the Terps handle the atmosphere? Maryland’s veteran players are used to playing in front of these massive road crowds, but even experience doesn’t make that easy. This will be Kasim Hill’s first start in such a hostile environment, and he’ll likely need to turn in the best performance of his career for his team to have a chance.


Vegas: Michigan -17.5 (O/U 47.5)

S&P+: Michigan 36, Maryland 16

Me: Michigan 28, Maryland 17