The matchup won't garner many headlines this Saturday, but there is a ton to play for on both sides with the Michigan Wolverines traveling to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins.
Starting with the home team, Saturday will be Senior Day for the Terrapins, who will look to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016 as they sit with a .500 record (5-5 overall, 2-5 in the Big Ten) after falling 40-21 to Michigan State last weekend. Offense wasn't the issue against the Spartans, putting up 447 total yards, but they allowed four passing touchdowns, along with 143 yards and two more scores from Heisman front-runner Kenneth Walker III. Maryland has now lost five of their last six games since beginning the year 4-0.
As for the Wolverines (9-1, 6-1), they're coming off a massive 21-17 comeback victory at Penn State, capped off by a 47-yard touchdown reception by tight end Erick All in the final four minutes of the game. It wasn't the prettiest victory by any stretch, but Michigan continued their dominance on the defensive end, sacking Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford seven times, to go along with 12 tackles for a loss. A win on Saturday would put the Wolverines just one victory away from a possible berth in the Big Ten title game, so plenty is at stake.
No. 6 Michigan at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan -15
When Michigan Has the Ball
No Blake Corum, no problem. Michigan entered Saturday down their leading second-leading rusher on the season, yet the Wolverines still churned out yards on the back of starter Hassan Haskins, who ran for 156 yards on 31 carries. That's now 58 carries the last two weeks for Haskins, and the Wolverines are expected to be without Corum again on Saturday, so expect another heavy dose of the senior running back with Michigan on offense. After allowing 143 yards last week to Walker, the Maryland defense sits 13th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed per game (157.5) and has given up 14 rushing scores in the last six contests.
It was yet another proficient outing from quarterback Cade McNamara against the Nittany Lions, completing 66 percent of his passes for 217 yards and three scores, including the game-winner to All. He has seven of his 12 touchdown passes in the last three games, two of which were on the road at Penn State and Michigan State.
There is no bonafide star among the Michigan pass catchers, but the Wolverines are getting contributions everywhere of late. Roman Wilson had two receiving touchdowns on Saturday. The week prior against Indiana, it was junior Cornelius Johnson who topped 100 yards receiving. Eight different Michigan pass-catchers have 11 or more receptions on the year, which speaks to the depth this team is developing. Tough task for a Maryland secondary that is 105th in the country, allowing 258.2 yards through the air.
When Maryland Has the Ball
Missed opportunities cost the Terrapins last Saturday in East Lansing, as they had four offensive drives stall out after getting inside the Michigan State 40-yard line. Zero points on those trips. To be fair to quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, he's playing with a M.A.S.H. unit among the Maryland skill positions, as they've been without two starting receivers for five weeks now and were down yet another starting running back on Saturday. For the season, Tagovailoa has been improved, throwing for 3,105 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with a 69.3 percent completion rate. Maryland keeping their starting quarterback upright on Saturday will be the task since the Terps have allowed 15 sacks over the last five games and are now facing arguably the best pair of pass rushers in the country in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.
Tagovailoa would be aided by a successful running game to complement the passing offense, but the Terps have struggled to gain anything on the ground in the last month in a half. Since Week 6 against Ohio State, Maryland is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry and has failed to rush for 100 yards as a team in five of the last six games. Not a coincidence they've lost five of those six games. The biggest contributions of late have come from tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who now has 20 receptions in the last two games alone and found the end zone twice against Michigan State. That's half of his season-long production in just two weeks.
The Wolverines sleepwalking into College Park and looking ahead to the looming matchup with Ohio State is about the only chance Maryland has in this matchup. Michigan's pass rush with the duo of Hutchinson and Ojabo is starting to ratchet up the pressure, and Maryland's offensive line has been swarmed in recent weeks. Being one-dimensional against the Michigan defense is not a recipe for success, and that's what Maryland has been of late, with Tagovailoa averaging 42 attempts per game over the last five weeks. Michigan wins comfortably, setting up the showdown with the Buckeyes next Saturday in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Maryland 17
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— 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.