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Maryland beats Michigan State—are the Terps actually good?

Buy stock in Maryland’s kicker, and...well, we’ll learn more this weekend?

NCAA Football: Maryland at Charlotte
kinda a weird angle but whatever
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a lot of hot takes in response to the 1st 5 weeks of B1G football: The B1G West is ass. MSU is ass. Wisconsin is ass. Nebraska is stinky ass with toilet paper stuck to it.

And they could beat rutger. Ewww.

Fortunately, MaximumSam has provided us with some advanced metrics to add some perpsective and objectivity to the craziness that we know and love.

Most OTEers think Maryland is a good solid team, but not elite. This take is a “buy.” (Just to shamelessly plug one of OTE’s much-appreciated weekly features.)

The Terps started the year ranked 54th [29th Offense, 89th Defense]. On August 29, I wrote that Maryland could have a top-10 offense (more likely top-15), special teams would be dramatically improved with the addition of a really good transfer kicker, but the defense was the big question mark. If the defense could just improve from horrid to average, MD could have a successful year.

Currently, the offense sits at #17, the defense at #54, and we have a really good kicker. That gets you ranked #24 overall. Nice improvement.

Over 50% of OTEers voted MD would finish 8-4 or 7-5. Pretty good. Looks like MD is on pace for this level of success because the defense has, indeed, improved significantly from horrid to average.

Maryland Terrapins 27, Michigan State Spartans 13

Now, let’s look at Michigan State, who have done the exact opposite — regressing as much as MD has improved. Preseason MSU was ranked #15 [20th Offense, 20th Defense] and have regressed to #37 Overall [32nd Offense, 41st Defense]. This is a down year by MSU standards [and a good year by rutger, IU and MD standards], but it is not ass. Ass is the offensive offenses of Iowa, rutger, IU, and “Fitz and the Tantrums.” These offenses rank 77th, 83rd, 89th, and 93rd. I’ll let you guess which order.

The MSU-MD game played out as you would expect from the 24th-ranked team against the 37th ranked team. MSU is not a bad team. They play hard, and are disciplined. But, I don’t think there was a single Spartans unit that was appreciably better than the Terps. Maryland has a better QB, better WRs, better TEs and a better kicker. Michigan State may have better defensive positional groups [by the SP+ defensive rankings], but not notably better.

The Breakdowns

Offense: Like last week against Michigan, Maryland’s offense was efficient—except when they were 1st and goal at MSU’s 2 yard line—but not gaudy.

  • Taulia Tagovailoa was 32-41 for 314 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT spreading the wealth by hitting 10 different receivers.
  • Antwain Littleton had 19 carries for 120 yards averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Led by Littleton, Maryland rushed for a total of 175 yards to go with Taulia’s 314 passing yards to average 6.4 yards per play and 489 yards of total offense. Whereas, MSU had 100 rushing yard, 221 passing yards and 321 total yards. The Terps won time of possession 36 minutes to 24 minutes.

Nothing gaudy, but Maryland’s offense is really solid and efficient.

No turnovers by either team.

Defense: Maryland allowed Michigan State to score on their opening drive. Then Maryland bottled up MSU’s offense until Sparty scored another TD with 4:24 left in the first half. As is becoming a trend for Maryland defense, they made some excellent halftime adjustments and allowed Michigan State to gain only 12 yards in the 3rd quarter.

Nice. Unless you’re an MSU fan, then it sucks. Trust me. I know. I’ve been there. Walt Bell, who is currently the OC for that shitty IU offense was once MD’s OC. How does this guy keep getting hired?

Special Teams: MSU has kicking issues. For Maryland, Eastern Michigan transfer Chad Ryland kicked another 50+ yard field goal for his third of the season. However, he later missed another 50+ yard field goal attempt, which bonked off the upright. Still, dude is hellagood. He is 1/1 from 30-39 yds, 3/3 from 40-49 yds, and 3/4 from 50+ yds for the season.

Up Next:

Purdue visits Maryland Saturday at 12 EDT. Maryland is favored by 3.5 points.

I predicted this a a win for Maryland, only because the Terps are at home. This still feels about right.

Purdue is currently ranked by SP+ at #25, right behind Maryland at #24. I personally think Purdue’s defense is a little overrated. Their stellar performance against the Gophers must be tempered by the fact that, apparently, Minnesota’s rushing attack is shit when Mohammed Ibrahim doesn’t play. Also, Minnesota was without their best WR. Nevertheless, Purdue’s defense is sneaky good [ranked #20] and their offense is respectable [ranked #34]. Should be a good game. I expect a very close game. These are two very evenly matched teams.