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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Maryland Terrapins Preview and Prediction

James Franklin

James Franklin

Two weeks after making a coaching change, Maryland is back in action this week. Maryland begins the post-Randy Edsall era with a quasi-home game against Penn State. The two Big Ten East Division rivals will square off on the NFL field in Baltimore, and Penn State will be looking for some revenge.

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Last season Maryland scored its second all-time victory against Penn State by coming to State College, getting in players' faces, refusing to shake hands and celebrating a victory afterward. It was a rather embarrassing result for Penn State, and they have had a year to let that stew. Now Penn State looks to reaffirm its dominance by taking it to Maryland in Baltimore.

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Penn State vs. Maryland (Baltimore)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Penn State -6.5

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Three Things To Watch

1. Saquon Barkley and William Likely each can make big things happen

Last week Penn State welcomed back freshman running back Saquon Barkley to the playing field against Ohio State, and the kid put on a show. He may not have reached the end zone (he did once, but it was called back for a holding penalty), but he did go for just under 200 yards on the ground against the Buckeyes. When healthy, Barkley will dazzle with his feet and be difficult to slow down once he gets going. Maryland will have to prevent him from getting too far beyond the line of scrimmage.

Maryland's big playmaker is junior defensive back and special teams artist William Likely. Likely has returned two punts for touchdowns. Last season Penn State prevented him from breaking any big special teams plays, tying him down for a loss of seven yards on four punt returns. Special teams were a huge factor in Pen State's game against Ohio State, and Likely will be an important key player in this matchup.

2. Maryland moves past Randy Edsall

In case you forgot, Maryland made a coaching change two weeks ago. The firing of Randy Edsall sort of got lost in the headlines as USC made another coaching change out on the west coast, but in steps Mike Locksley to serve as the interim head coach of the Terrapins. It appeared Edsall had lost his players, and now we get to see just how much this team is ready to release some stress in their first game back since the coaching change. Penn State is playing this one cautiously, knowing a team with an interim coach may be a bit more dangerous and carefree.

3. There will be handshakes

Last year's meeting in Beaver Stadium got off to a rocky start when Maryland captains refused to shake hands with Penn State captains before the coin flip, which occurred shortly after players from both teams got into a bit of a shouting match and had to be separated as the teams took the field. Tensions will always be high in a game between two states sharing a border, but do not expect the same lack of sportsmanship this season. This year's Maryland captains have already moved on and have said they will indeed shake hands with their counterparts from Penn State. What happens once the game starts though is a whole other ballgame.

Final Analysis

Penn State has found a way to run the football with Saquon Barkley and should let that lead the way on offense rather than trust Christian Hackenberg to thrive through the air. Maryland's rushing defense ranks 13th in the Big Ten, allowing nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. Penn State, even with a shaky offensive line, should be able to take advantage of that from the start.

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Prediction: Penn State 32, Maryland 17

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.