Maryland (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) has lost three straight and things are not going to get any easier this week as the Terps host Michigan (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten), the 14th ranked team in the nation. The game is set for 12 p.m. on ABC.
Here are five things to know for Saturday’s game.
Who’s the quarterback?
The quarterback situation for Maryland is a mess. Josh Jackson was the starter entering the season, but suffered a high-ankle sprain against Rutgers. Tyrrell Pigrome took over, but left last week’s game with a knee injury. Jackson was thought to be healthy and came into the game, but lasted only one series. He looked completely off and freshman quarterback Tyler DeSue came on in relief and completed only four of his 12 passes, but did throw a touchdown.
This would be a disastrous turn of events for most programs. For Maryland, it’s just Saturday.
The annual quarterback merry go round is in full swing for Saturday. Pigrome is expected to be available on Saturday, but considering his real strength is his mobility, you have to wonder just how effective he can be? Jackson’s performance leaves questions about his health because he cannot possibly be healthy and play as poorly as he did against Minnesota. DeSue may be a bit over his head, but I would not be surprised if he was forced into action again.
Maryland gets Michigan right when its peaking
The timing for this game could have been better. While the Terps have gone 1-5 after a 2-0 start, the Wolverines seem to be peaking just in time for their trip to College Park. Jim Harbaugh earned an elusive top 10 win last week with a 45-14 beatdown of Notre Dame, improving his record to 2-10 against top 10 teams while at Michigan. The week prior, the Wolverines were about a dropped pass away from tying undefeated Penn State in Happy Valley, the same Penn State team that beat Maryland 59-0.
It’s pick your poison time for Maryland’s defense
The Terps have struggled all season defending the pass and have the worst pass defense in the Big Ten. The good news is that Shea Patterson has never thrown for 300 yards as Michigan’s quarterback with his career-high being 282 yards. The bad news is that 282 yards came against the Terps.
Maryland has not been quite as bad against the run...until last week when the Terps were gashed to 321 yards by Minnesota. The Wolverines are coming off a big win over Notre Dame in which Michigan ran for 303 yards.
Michigan has a fumbling problem
If there is a silver-lining for Maryland’s defense it’s that it should be able to generate some turnovers. Michigan has lost nine fumbles this season, tied for the sixth-most in the nation. It could actually be even worse as the Wolverines have put the ball on the ground 20 times.
The Terps have forced only five fumbles this year, but they should be looking to punch the ball out whenever possible.
A daunting schedule
Last week was the beginning of a brutal stretch for Maryland to close out the season. It started with a game against undefeated Minnesota, this wee they host Michigan, then it’s at Ohio State, Nebraska and at Michigan State.
The Terps currently hold a 3-5 record, three wins away from bowl eligibility. Getting that sixth win will hinge largely on what happens this week. If Maryland wins in an upset, suddenly six does not seem out of the question. Lose to Michigan and it is hard to believe the Terps can run the table, especially with a trip to Columbus still on the schedule.
While their schedule is doing them no favors, Michigan's schedule could. This game is sandwiched in the middle of a big four-game stretch for Michigan in which the Wolverines played Penn State, Notre Dame, now Maryland and host Michigan State next week.
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