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First Look: Maryland

October 31st, 2016 by Justin Potts


dj-durkin-maryland(Maryland Athletics photo)

Michigan got the Michigan State monkey off its back with a win in East Lansing on Saturday. Although the final score says the Wolverines won by just nine, the Wolverines were well in control by halftime. Michigan State scored a couple times in the fourth quarter and moved the ball better than most teams have against the Wolverines defense this season. All that means is that they’ll have plenty to improve upon and not get complacent or overconfident.

This week, they return home to face Maryland. It’s easy to predict a letdown game after a road win against your rival, but I think that already happened in the fourth quarter. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare so far this season.

Maryland & Michigan statistical comparison
Maryland | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 32.6 | 46.6 45 3
23.2 11.6 36 1
Rushing Yards 2,016 1,992 1,761 889
Rush Avg. Per Game 252.0 249.0 13 15
220.1 111.1 109 15
Avg. Per Rush 5.7 | 5.4
4.8 3.3
Passing Yards 1,374 1,825 1,451 961
Pass Avg. Per Game 171.8 228.1 110 72 181.4 120.1 18 1
Total Offense 3,390 3,817 3,212 1,850
Total Off Avg. Per Game 423.8 | 477.1 52 31 401.5 231.2 63 1
Kick Return Average 18.2 17.2 114 119 18.4 20.7 29 | 71
Punt Return Average 6.4 17.9 83 5 5.0 | 8.8 31 | 85
Avg. Time of Possession 28:23 33:48 89 14 31:37 | 26:13
3rd Down Conversion Pct 39% | 48% 68 | 19
36% | 16.0% 42 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 24-169 | 11-83
112 | 19
20-130 | 27-184 42 | 9
Touchdowns Scored 35 49
25 | 12
Field Goals-Attempts 6-8 | 9-14
5-8 | 3-7
Red Zone Scores (28-30) 93%|(42-46) 91% 9 | 22
(21-30) 70%|(7-12) 58% 8 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (22-30) 73%|(33-46) 72% (17-30) 57%|(6-12 50%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 29.6 39.1 65 15 29.8 1.7 72 1

Statistically, Maryland is better than Michigan State and they also beat the Spartans on the field two weeks ago, but entering this week’s matchup it’s hard to imaging the Terrapins giving Michigan much of a fight. It feels like a chance to exhale after a big rivalry win on the road.

Maryland’s offense ranks among the top half of the Big Ten in most categories. The Terps feature the conference’s second best rushing offense behind only Ohio State, averaging 252 rushing yards per game. It’s the one area that ranks higher than Michigan, but only by three yards per game. They’ve eclipsed 200 rushing yards in six of eight games, 300 yards twice, and reached exactly 400 yards against Purdue. Minnesota’s 30th-ranked rush defense held Maryland to a season low 130 rushing yards and no touchdowns on 3.6 yards per carry. However, they bounced back with 247 yards and two touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry against Michigan State. Michigan managed just 192 against the Spartans on 4.6 yards per carry.

The passing game, however, is a much different story. Maryland ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 110th nationally in passing with just 171.8 yards per game. This past Saturday’s win over Indiana yielded their best passing game of the season with 248 yards. They’ve been held below 200 yards passing four times with a season low of 96 yards against Purdue. The offensive line hasn’t given the quarterbacks much time to throw, allowing a Big Ten worst 24 sacks.

Defensively, Maryland’s strengths are flip-flopped. They’re solid against the pass, but have a hard time stopping the run. In fact, the 220.1 rushing yards Maryland allows per game is better than only Purdue and Rutgers in the conference. Indiana gashed the Terps with 414 rushing yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Penn State rushed for 372 yards on six yards per carry. Yes, the same Penn State that managed just 70 rushing yards on 28 carries against Michigan. And the only reason Maryland’s rush defense doesn’t allow a higher average is because they got the fortune of facing Purdue’s rush offense that can barely run forward. Maryland held the Boilers to just 10 rushing yards.

Maryland’s pass defense ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 18th nationally, giving up 181.4 yards per game. Only three of eight opponents have thrown for 200 or more yards on the Terps, lead by UCF’s 260. Indiana passed for 236 on its way to 650 total yards.

Maryland’s special teams are nothing to write home about, especially with their best return man, Will Likely out for the season.

Overall, Maryland is a solid, middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team that shouldn’t pose a threat to Michigan’s conference title hopes. Unless Michigan’s former defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin — now Maryland’s head coach — can figure out a way to stop the Michigan running game, the Wolverines should cruise to 9-0.