Game Preview: Penn State vs. Maryland
Maryland (5-6, 3-5) will take on No. 16 Penn State (8-3, 5-3) at Beaver Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for Penn State’s senior day and final game of the season.
Both teams are coming off much different performances and results from their previous games. For Maryland, it had an excellent showing against the Ohio State Buckeyes, in which it rushed for 339 yards on Urban Meyer’s defense. However, a late Ohio State rally sent the game into overtime and the Terps came up short losing 52-51.
Meanwhile, for Penn State, its previous game against Rutgers could not have gone any different. The Nittany Lions appeared to be sleepwalking through the game and did not look impressive despite winning 20-7. Trace McSorley was just 17-37 and threw an ugly interception as the offense struggled to move the football with any consistency. If it weren’t for Rutgers being Rutgers this could have easily been a Penn State loss.
The one thing these teams do have in common is how inconsistent they have been this season. Maryland looked really impressive in its win over Texas to start the season and against Ohio State last week. However, the Terps also lost to Temple at home and got destroyed by Michigan in the Big House.
The same can be said for Penn State too. The Nittany Lions dominated Pitt on the road and held off a very good Iowa team at home. Yet, they too got demolished by Michigan in Ann Arbor and looked really sleepy against lower Big Ten teams like Indiana and Rutgers. Both these teams have had their moments this season of playing really good football, but have also had their moments of playing very poorly as well.
The key to this game will be running the ball. Both teams are very run-heavy offenses, especially Maryland. The Terrapins are currently ranked 17th in the NCAA in rushing offense at 244 yards per game and are led by redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland, who has over 1,000 rushing yards this season and four touchdowns.
McFarland is the backbone of this Maryland option offense. The Nittany Lions are currently 41st in the country in rushing offense, averaging 199 yards per game led by Miles Sanders and Trace McSorley, who have combined for over 1,700 rushing yards this season.
Not only are both these teams strong rushing offenses, but they are also both very below average passing offenses. Both teams are not even in the top 80 for passing yards this season.
This is why the run will be key to this game because both teams struggle to throw the ball and rely heavily on the run. Not to mention the weather for this Saturday is going to be cold and wet, which favors running the ball a lot.
The biggest X-factor for this game will be McSorley, who will play his final game at Beaver Stadium Saturday. McSorley hasn’t looked his best the past few games as his passing numbers have been down. However, if McSorley comes out and looks determined to have a big game in his final show in Happy Valley it could be a long day for the UMD defense.
Ultimately, McSorley should be a man on a mission this weekend and look to put one last epic performance together at Beaver Stadium. Combine that with the Terrapins' emotional loss last weekend to Ohio State, it seems destined for the Nittany Lions to win.
Final score prediction: Penn State 31, Maryland 10
Mitch Broder is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.