Maryland football hasn’t had much success as of late, losing three straight games to sink its record to 3-5.
That includes a 52-10 beatdown at the hands of then-No. 17 Minnesota a week ago, a matchup in which the Terps had nothing going for them from start to finish. And on Saturday, they’ll have another top-25 opponent to deal with.
Maryland will face No. 14 Michigan on Homecoming, the first of four brutal games to end the 2019 regular season. After the Wolverines, the Terps will face No. 3 Ohio State on the road and Nebraska at home before capping things off against Michigan State at East Lansing. The buck has to stop at some point for the Terps, though that may not be for quite a while.
Saturday’s game is slated to begin at noon ET, and it will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
Michigan Wolverines (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten)
2018 record: 10-3 (8-1 Big Ten)
Head coach Jim Harbaugh may have fallen short of national expectations thus far in his four and a half seasons in Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines have still been very successful in his tenure. Under his leadership, Michigan has a 44-16 record, though it has just a 1-3 mark in bowl games. Before Michigan, Harbaugh made his mark coaching at Stanford before a run in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Players to know
Shea Patterson, senior quarterback, 6’2, 202 lbs, No. 2. Patterson’s collegiate career has been a rollercoaster thus far, as the Louisiana native played at Ole Miss his first two seasons before transferring to Michigan. His first season with the Wolverines was the best quarterback play the program had seen in a while, though he’s taken a step back in year two.
On the season, Patterson has completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,622 yards (7.6 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, he’s made a marked improvement with his legs in 2019 thus far, racking up five touchdowns in just eight games.
Zach Charbonnet, freshman running back, 6’2, 220 lbs, No. 24. It’s been quite the debut season for Charbonnet, who is tied for second in the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns. On the year, he’s rushed 109 times for 531 yards (4.9 yards per carry) with nine scores. Hassan Haskins (No. 25) has also been in the mix in the backfield, but Charbonnett is leading the charge for Michigan’s ground attack.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, junior wide receiver, 6’2, 208 lbs, No. 9. Injuries have stunted his season thus far, as Peoples-Jones has missed two games and been limited in others. However, he’s still the No. 1 threat in the Wolverines’ passing game, even if the stats don’t show it this year. In six appearances, Peoples-Jones has 19 catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, however, he racked up 47 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ronnie Bell, sophomore wide receiver, 6’0, 184 lbs, No. 8. While Peoples-Jones has been hampered, Bell has taken the role of leading receiver for Michigan. He didn’t see much action as a freshman, only bringing in eight catches all year. But Bell has taken a huge sophomore leap, hauling in 26 passes for 452 yards, good for a healthy 17.4 yards per catch.
Defense. This may not be the utterly dominant Michigan defense from the last two seasons, but it’s still been the team’s strength in 2019. Not only do the Wolverines rank in the top-five of the conference in every major category, but they’re one of the best defenses in the nation as well. Michigan has allowed just 18.4 points and 270.4 yards per game thus far, which rank 16th and eighth in the country.
“They got a good [defensive coordinator in Don Brown],” Maryland running back Anthony McFarland Jr. said. “He does a good job at disguising it, sends a lot of pressure. ... He has the player’s get the job done. So its going to be tough for us, but we like a tough game.”
“They pose a great challenge but, our guys come to play at Maryland because of these opportunities to play against the best,” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said on Tuesday. “We’ll definitely see one of the better fronts this weekend and it’s a great challenge, but I think our guys will be up to the task.”
Offense. To preface this section, I’ll say this — Michigan has no “weakness.” The Wolverines aren’t bad at anything, at least not objectively. Compared to the rest of the team, the offense leaves a bit to be desired, but even then, it ranks middle-of-the-pack in the Big Ten in every major category.
Three things to watch
1. Who will start at quarterback for Maryland? Another week, another uncertainty at the quarterback position for the Terps. Weeks 7-9 starter Tyrrell Pigrome left last week’s game against Minnesota early with a knee injury, paving the way for early-season starter Josh Jackson to make a return from an ankle sprain.
That didn’t happen, as Jackson got just one series before the reins were turned over to Tyler DeSue. According to Locksley, Pigrome is practicing in full, and one of him and Jackson will start on Saturday.
2. Can Maryland stop Michigan’s running game? As is tradition with the Wolverines, the running game is the biggest factor into the team’s success. Jim Harbaugh, despite having talented quarterbacks — Andrew Luck, most notably — at his disposal at his numerous stops, has preached a run-first mentality. Maryland was gashed on the ground by Minnesota last week, and if the Wolverines find success that easily on Saturday, it may be a long night for the Terps.
“To me, we have to stop the run, and our defense is going to be built to always stop the run first,” Locksley said. “We’ve put it on film that we struggled last week, maintaining our gaps because we had enough guys in the gaps, but we weren’t in the gaps we needed to be, and so we gotta get that corrected, which we’ll work to get done this week.”
3. Will this game stay close? It’s no secret that Maryland has suffered some brutal defeats since joining the Big Ten. The Terps have kept things respectable against the Wolverines the last two years, losing by an average of 23 points per game.
However, in 2016, Maryland lost 59-3, which resembles the outcome of last week’s matchup against then-No. 17 Minnesota, which saw the Terps fall, 52-10. The spread for Saturday’s contest currently sits at 21 points, but if Maryland starts off on the wrong foot, it could get ugly quick.
“Coach always tell us that every game, just focus on each play. Don’t focus on the scoreboard. Whether we’re down 21 or up 21, we still got a job to do,” cornerback Marcus Lewis said on Tuesday. “And it’s not easy, because like he says, It’s human nature to look up at the scoreboard and things like that, but I think we’re slowly and gradually starting to, you know, take on his mindset.”
Vegas: Michigan -21, O/U 56 (as of Thursday night)
ESPN FPI: Michigan 88.9% chance to win
Me: Michigan 58, Maryland 10