Michigan Wolverines at Maryland Terrapins
Michigan looks like a team that has found itself. Maryland looks like a team still searching for answers.
The Terrapins better find some in a hurry with the 14th-ranked Wolverines headed to town Saturday for a noon ET kickoff in College Park.
The surging Wolverines (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) ran over then-No. 8 Notre Dame 45-14 last Saturday, and they outplayed then-No. 7 Penn State in the second half of a 28-21 loss the week before. They've won four of their last five, and generally in impressive fashion. Meanwhile, it's homecoming at Maryland and a chance for the Terrapins (3-5, 1-4) to snap a three-game losing streak under first-year coach Mike Locksley.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has his own issues, recently sending a letter to parents of players downplaying rumors that he would soon be leaving his alma mater for other opportunities. Adamant about staying in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh certainly doesn't have a reason to leave with his team's much-improved play and a favorable schedule down the stretch, wrapping up Nov. 30 with No. 3 Ohio State at home.
"That does bode well, that unconditional belief in each other is huge," Harbaugh told reporters of the Wolverines' recent rise.
In contrast, the Terrapins have lost five of their last six and are still looking for some positive results. After a high-scoring, 2-0 start, the Terps have faltered. Three of their Big Ten losses have been by 26 or more points.
"Any time you develop your roster and get the chance to play some of the young guys we've played ... the two main areas for us to develop depth and find ways to improve are on the offensive line and the defensive line," Locksley told reporters. "Especially in this league. The offensive line, in particular, I thought we have made some strides with some of the guys that played a lot of plays early this year."
The biggest Maryland concern heading to Saturday, though, may be with the defensive front. The Terrapins got ground up by Minnesota last week in a 52-10 loss, allowing a season-high 321 yards rushing. Michigan had a season-high 303 rushing yards against the Fighting Irish, with emerging redshirt freshman Hassan Haskins leading the way with 149 yards on 20 carries.
The Wolverines have averaged 246.3 yards rushing the last three contests. Maryland's last six opponents have all rushed for better than 126 yards. Michigan has won seven of eight all-time meetings with Maryland, including the last four.
Maryland's running game, averaging 191 yards per contest, could be a saving grace if the Terrapins can get it going with star runner Anthony McFarland and left guard Terrance Davis both fully back from injuries. Michigan is allowing just 2.9 yards per rush, though, under former Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown, who was in College Park in 2009 and '10.
The Terrapins also have to contend with the almost annual injury issue at quarterback. Tyrrell Pigrome hurt his knee last week and gave way to Josh Jackson, the starter earlier who had been out with an ankle injury. Jackson wasn't ready at Minnesota, and Tyler DeSue finished the game. Jackson was taking first team snaps in practice this week, but Pigrome also could be available by Saturday.
After Maryland, Michigan has a week off before hosting Michigan State on Nov. 16, then a game at Indiana before the big showdown with the Buckeyes. Maryland travels to Ohio State next week.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 30, 2019