Wolverines cannot afford a letdown against the beat-up Terrapins with the toughest stretch of their schedule coming up
While last weekend was not a good one overall for the Big Ten and their chances at getting a team into the College Football Playoff, Michigan (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) did benefit to an extent from the results that took place. It was looking bleak for the Wolverines after the blowout loss to Penn State a few weeks back, but with Ohio State losing to Iowa last weekend, Michigan now has a puncher’s chance, with some additional help moving forward, to get back in the Big Ten East race this last month of the season.
Maryland (4-5, 2-4), on the other hand, has now lost four of five games after coming up short against Rutgers. With matchups ahead against Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State to close out the season, the Terrapins will need to pull off a miracle to see postseason play in 2017.
Can that miracle start Saturday against the Wolverines?
Michigan at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Michigan -16.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Not asking a whole lot
Brandon Peters has been the talk of the town for Michigan since taking over the starting quarterback job two weeks back, but we really haven’t seen all that much from the redshirt freshman to make an assessment on if he is the QB of the future yet. Against Minnesota, Peters completed just eight passes for 56 yards as he spent much of the day handing the ball off to both Karan Higdon and Chris Evans. Maryland currently ranks 11th in the conference in rush defense, allowing close to 175 yards per game on the ground with a league-leading 18 rushing touchdowns given up. AKA – don’t expect Peters to air it out this Saturday either.
2. Can Maryland catch a break?
Once again, there is no team in all of college football with worse luck at the quarterback position than the Maryland Terrapins. This season marks the third time in the last six in which the Terps have had to use at least three different starting quarterbacks, and it could be a fourth on Saturday as starting QB Max Bortenschlager (above, right) remains a game-time decision after suffering an apparent injury in the fourth quarter against Rutgers. If Bortenschlager is unable to go, sophomore walk-on Ryan Brand will be the guy after nearly bringing Maryland back for a game-tying touchdown late in the game last week. Still, it would be in Maryland's best interests that Bortenschlager is ready to go as it would be problematic starting a walk-on quarterback against this Michigan defense.
3. Possible three-peat
The Michigan faithful have been waiting patiently for the running game to take off like it did during Jim Harbaugh’s days at Stanford and with the 49ers, and it appears we have finally reached that point. Against Rutgers and Minnesota the past two weeks, the Wolverines have combined for 705 rushing yards on 88 carries (12.5 ypc) with eight touchdowns. Higdon has been the primary catalyst and the junior needs just 196 yards now to be the first Michigan RB since 2011 to top 1,000 rushing yards in a season. If he were to surpass that mark and hit 200 yards against Maryland, it would be his third straight game with 200 or more yards on the ground.
This matchup likely wouldn’t be competitive if Maryland was even at full strength at quarterback, let alone possibly down to their fourth-string walk-on. The Terps will have a difficult time generating any kind of offense against the No. 3 defense in the country and Michigan should come out with yet another easy win as the Wolverines get set for the toughest stretch of their season in the next two weeks.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Maryland 13
— 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.