Throughout the season during game week, we will be taking a look at what Michigan's opponent that Saturday has done so far and what the team looks like. With the game against Maryland being a week five opponent, we automatically go to the Terrapins' loss to West Virginia this past weekend and their turnover issues.
Maryland Overview: Average
Ricky: Things are quite shaky in College Park. Maryland is 2-2 with brutal losses to Bowling Green (48-27) and West Virginia (45-6). The Terrapin players reportedly held a players-only meeting Tuesday without head coach Randy Edsall’s acknowledgement. Meanwhile, Michigan rolls in hot after pummeling BYU 31-0, and has been adored by national media as of late. The amount the Wolverines are favored by Saturday continues to grow. Zach, is Maryland falling off the rails, and will Michigan push it off completely?
Zach: Maryland is average. An average football team that’s a member of the Big Ten conference for the sole reason of gaining more revenue. The Terrapins have finished in the Top 25 in the Associated Press poll just once since 2004, and barely qualified for the bowl game last season with a 7-6 record. So to answer your question, Maryland isn’t falling off of anything. They haven’t build that national power reputation since the early 2000’s. Michigan will push off whatever credibility Maryland has left to continue its contender mantra iwthin the conference. The Wolverines are a 12 point favorite over Maryland, is that a fair assessment?
Ricky: Oh, yes. I think that’s a fair assessment of Maryland. One can already see this averageness this year. The Terrapins have thrown 12 interceptions through four games, and lead FBS teams in the category. The offense stinks. The defense is even worse. But there is one bright spot; Maryland is one of the top punt return teams in the country. That’s not exactly something to write home about. How will Michigan fare against Maryland’s lone strength?
Zach: If punt returns are the only positive regarding the talent on Maryland’s roster, then they should be proud to carry a strong attribute. Will Likely, the cornerback, is also their leading man on returns, recording as many as two touchdowns this early in the season. He’s someone that punter Blake O’Neill shouldn't be targeting or else who knows the damage Likely can bring once again at College Park. Let’s focus now on Maryland’s offense as a whole, can they make it a competitive game against the No. 2 ranked defense in the country?
Ricky: If BYU, the then-22nd ranked team in the nation that topped Nebraska, Boise State and fell to UCLA by one point, couldn’t even score a point on Michigan’s defense, I don’t see how Maryland can make this anywhere near a competitive game. The Wolverines’ defense was a great unit during the final chapters of the Brady Hoke era, but it’s starting to scratch the surface on elitism. Maryland is the type of opponent that should continue this trend. An interception here, a fumble recovery there, and you’re looking at an elite group. Let’s key in on Michigan’s offense. Which player do you think needs a good showing against Maryland before the Wolverines return to face Northwestern and Michigan State?
Zach: I want to see if De’Veon Smith’s monster performance last Saturday against BYU wasn’t a fluke. Rushing for over 120 yards on the ground to a program that collected victories against Nebraska and Boise State is impressive, but can Smith repeat his success while doing battle with Maryland? Jim Harbaugh said on Monday that Smith has soreness in his right ankle after leaving the game last weekend due to the pain, so if he can’t play this Saturday, that leaves opportunity for Ty Isaac and Derrick Green to increase their snap count.
Recap: West Virginia 45, Maryland 6
This was a disaster. There’s no other way to put it.
West Virginia held a 38-0 lead at halftime, and nearly kept Maryland off the scoreboard (the Terrapins didn’t score until the fourth quarter).
Maryland threw five interceptions, including four picks by starter Caleb Rowe. West Virginia clobbered the Terrapins’ defense, totaling 601 yards of offense and 37 first downs.
Brandon Ross led Maryland offensively with 130 rushing yards on 15 carries. Jahrvis Davenport caught only one pass — a 46-yarder from Daxx Garman — but it account for the Terrapin’s lone score.
Key Players To Watch
Caleb Rowe, Quarterback
In the loss to West Virginia, Rowe completed just 37 percent of his passes (10-27) for 67-yards and zero touchdowns. The only game Rowe has thrown a touchdown was against South Florida with four. Without a touchdown brought forward a combined five interceptions from both Rowe and backup Daxx Garman. Michigan's defense has only intercepted the ball three times this season, but has allowed just 203.8 total yards to opponents. Also, considering how well Michigan's secondary has played so far this season, Rowe may suffer through another weekend matchup without throwing a touchdown.
Levern Jacobs, Wide Receiver
Jacobs is Maryland's best wide receiver. No question. When Maryland's offense was clicking on all cylinders against South Florida, Jacobs finished with eight receptions for 107-yards. And despite the junior catching just two and three passes against Richmond and Bowling Green, respectively, one of those receptions was for a touchdown. So even when Jacobs' quantity of passes drops, he still finds a way to make an impact.
Will Likely, Cornerback
Zach: Harbaugh has had a lot of first's this season as head coach. Winning his first home game, building a three game winning streak, losing his first road game and season opener, among others. And after Saturday's game, the next one will be Harbaugh's first win against a Big Ten opponent. Maryland simply does not have the firepower to take home the upset. Michigan covers the spread.
Ricky: Jabrill Peppers gets that elusive first-career interception as Michigan takes care of Maryland’s dreadful passing offense. Someone manages to rush for 100 yards with De’Veon Smith sitting to rest his injury.