Last weekend might have been the most impressive victory of the Jim Harbaugh era as the Wolverines (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) trounced Notre Dame at home 45-14 in what was a dominant wire-to-wire performance. Michigan outgained the Irish 437-180 in terms of total yardage, allowed just 1.5 yards per carry, and forced quarterback Ian Book into one of the worst passing days of his collegiate career — eight completions for 73 yards. There's still a long way to go with the Wolverines' two biggest rivals yet to come in the month of November, but this is a Michigan team that is rounding into form at the right time of the year.
That's not the case with Maryland, which has seemingly mailed it in for 2019. The Terrapins (3-5, 1-4) have now lost five out of their last six after getting trounced by Minnesota last weekend 52-10. In those five losses, the Terps have been outscored 205-69. And the road doesn’t get easier from here on out as Maryland gets Michigan and Ohio State in its next two contests. Buckle up...
Michigan at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12 p.m.
Spread: Michigan -21
When Michigan Has the Ball
Run, run and run some more. The Terrapins are actually worse at defending the pass in 2019, ranking dead last in the Big Ten by a wide margin at 274 yards per game allowed through the air, but the Wolverines found a great deal of success last week leaning on their young backfield tandem of Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet. For the second time in the last three games, the two underclassmen combined for well over 200 yards and two TDs on the ground, and now they get to face a Maryland defense that has allowed a 100-yard rusher in back-to-back weeks.
If Michigan does decide to take to the air against a below-average Maryland pass defense, Shea Patterson has looked impressive over the last three games with a 151.4 quarterback rating, seven total touchdowns, and just one interception.
When Maryland Has the Ball
When Maryland rushes for just 79 yards as a team, the Terrapins aren't going to win many ballgames. Star running back Anthony McFarland Jr. returned to the lineup last week against the Gophers after missing the prior game due to an ankle injury, but he rushed for only 38 yards on 10 carries. It was a far cry from the 2018 matchup between the two teams in which Maryland racked up over 300 yards on the ground. To have any shot at beating the Wolverines, McFarland and backup Javon Leake (8.2 YPC average) have to find some running room.
The injury bug has hit the quarterback position once again — a story all too familiar to Maryland fans at this point. Tyrrell Pigrome suffered a hyperextended knee against the Gophers last week, and he is questionable heading into Saturday's bout with the Wolverines. Should Pigrome miss the contest, former Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson would re-assume his role as the starter.
Unless Maryland catches the Wolverines sleepwalking with a noon kickoff coming off their most impressive performance of the season, this should not be a close contest. The Michigan ground game is starting to jell finally with the two young running backs. Shea Patterson is playing his best ball of the season. And the Wolverines defense is starting to fly around and play with the swagger that they’ve shown the past few years. Anthony McFarland gives Maryland a chance anytime it hits the field, but the Terps are catching Michigan at the wrong point in the season.
Prediction: Michigan 41, Maryland 10
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.