The Michigan Wolverines are riding high after a huge win over the top-10 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish last week. But the celebration can’t last too long, it’s time to get back to business with a game on Saturday on the road in Maryland to face the Terrapins.
Maryland came out hot to start the season scoring a combined 142 points in the first two games of the season against Howard and No. 21 Syracuse. It was a great start for new head coach Mike Locksley.
After the impressive start to the season, Maryland found themselves ranked inside the Top-25. But since then, they have put only 76 points up in the past six games, and they’ve lost five of those six games. This is mostly due to inconsistent quarterback play and an injury to their star runningback Anthony McFarland.
McFarland has seen limited snaps over the last four weeks due to an ankle injury but is expected to be fully healthy heading into the game against Michigan on Saturday.
As a sophomore, McFarland has posted up some fairly impressive numbers despite being a little banged up. He has run for 378 yards and scored 7 touchdowns on the ground despite only 78 rushing attempts, and has another touchdown through the air with over 100 receiving yard to boot.
When fully healthy, McFarland is one of the most dangerous backs in the Big Ten. When he gets to the outside he is extremely difficult to catch with a breaking speed that will leave every defender in the dust. Last season, he had two games of over 200 rushing yards, one of which was against Ohio State in the near-upset when he put up 298 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.
The goal for Don Brown and his defense will be to keep McFarland hemmed in. They have to maintain outside contain and force McFarland to stay toward the middle of the field where there will be more defenders to slow him up.
The Wolverines defense has really struggled to slow down some of the best offensive weapons in the Big Ten this season. K.J. Hamler had 6 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns when Penn State narrowly defeated Michigan in Happy Valley. Likewise, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor ran for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Badgers beatdown of Michigan in Madison early in the season. Anthony McFarland has the potential to be that good if Michigan can’t find a way to slow him down, and he has shown that throughout his career as a Terp.
Now, Michigan is the much better team in this circumstance, whereas it was a level playing field against Wisconsin and Penn State. A big day by McFarland could keep the Terps around and potentially give them a shot at an upset bid, but the Wolverines, by all means, should win this football game. But no road game in the Big Ten is an easy one, and Michigan has to contain Anthony McFarland to avoid a scare a couple of days after Halloween.