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Maryland vs Penn State: 3 most important matchups

This is Maryland interim head coach Mike Locksley's first opportunity to get a win and show what he can do as the guy in charge. The Terps play Penn State on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib has a national-best 11.5 sacks.
Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib has a national-best 11.5 sacks.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Maryland Terrapins and Penn State Nittany Lions are coming off of losses in previous weeks to the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Terps are in desperate need of a win because they've lost three straight and as a result, Randy Edsall was fired. This is a chance for Maryland to gain some momentum in the second half of the season..

This game will have more meaning for the simple fact that the Terps beat Penn State 20-19 last season and tensions ran high during the pregame festivities and the infamous non-handshake during the coin toss added more fuel to the fire. The Terps have a lot to watch out for but three things in particular:

#1. Carl Nassib vs Maryland's offensive line

Through the first  six games of the season, Carl Nassib has been a sack master. He has 11.5 sacks, which is first in the NCAA. Penn State is first in the NCAA in sacks with 27. The Nittany Lions' ability to get pressure on the quarterback should be a cause for concern for the Terps. It will be interesting to see how the Terps combat Nassib. Just double-teaming him may be too easy, as Penn State's coaching staff would pick up on that and punch holes in the defense elsewhere. All-Big Ten defensive tackle Anthony Zettel isn't a picnic, either.

#2. Perry Hills vs Penn State's defense

Perry Hills in the Ohio State loss was able to prove that he can run the football on his own and move the ball down the field.  In that game, he had 25 carries for 170 yards and two touchdowns. If he's able run at the same level or even half of that against Penn State, Maryland should be in good shape. Hills's running ability would open up holes for his running backs to break free and his wide receivers to get open for big plays down the field.

#3. Christian Hackenberg vs. Maryland's defense

Despite the Nittany Lions being held to only 10 points against the Buckeyes, Hackenberg has still managed to have a so-so season to this point and has posted 1,086 yards and seven touchdowns. If Maryland's defense wants to slow him down, the Terps need to get pressure on Hackenberg. He's not great when he doesn't have time.