The Maryland Terrapins (5-3) will will play the Michigan State Spartans (5-3) on Saturday in Big Ten conference play. The Terps are currently underdogs by 2 points.
This has been an immensely difficult week not just for the Maryland football program, but for the university as a whole. In the ongoing wake of the Jordan McNair death, the board of Regents forced President Wallace Loh to reinstate Dj Durkin, but a day later Loh fired Durkin against the wishes of the board. The very next day a fight broke out in practice in which a “whistleblower” was injured, although all witnesses present deny that was the cause of the disturbance. All of this comes with the national spotlight associated with a scandal of this magnitude.
On the field, Maryland is actually coming off of its best game of the season after scoring 63 points and putting up 700+ yards of offense against Illinois. Javon Leake came out of nowhere to become the Terps’ breakout-running-back-of-the-week, scoring 4 total touchdowns, rushing for 134 yards on his scores alone. The most encouraging development however was Kasim Hill having his best day as a Terp so far, showing poise as a real pocket-passer that we’ve been waiting on.
Three weeks ago Michigan State looked to be one of the best teams in the Big 10 after pulling a stunning upset on the road at top-ten Penn St. They’ve come back to earth in recent weeks however after getting dominated at home by rival Michigan and needing some late-game heroics to defeat Purdue. The spartans have been stingy against the run this year which could spell trouble for the ground-based Terps.
This game is very difficult to get a read on. Both teams have been wildly inconsistent this year, and there is of course the unknown effect of the turmoil off the field on how the Terps will play. In a similar situation for both teams on-field-wise two years ago, Maryland defeated the Spartans 28-17, and while I think Michigan St is definitely better this time around, Maryland still probably has a bit of an edge. I think either way, the game is decided by no more than 10 points, but Maryland is who i’d pick to win.
Kickoff is set for noon tomorrow on ESPN2.