Michigan football vs. Maryland: 3 keys, predictions

michigan-maryland-predictions

Michigan plays Maryland at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Maryland Stadium in College Park, Md. The Wolverines and Terrapins meet for the fourth time as Big Ten opponents (seventh time overall). The Wolverines earned a 59-3 win in November 2016 at Michigan Stadium, in Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s first game against Maryland coach D.J. Durkin. Durkin was Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2015 and took over Maryland’s program prior to the 2016 season. He was an assistant for Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09.

Michigan leads the all-time series, 5-1. Michigan defeated Minnesota 33-10 last weekend in Ann Arbor.

Here are three keys to the game, and predictions from Land of 10 Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen.

1. Make Maryland’s offense one-dimensional

The Wolverines defense needs to put pressure on Maryland’s quarterback, whoever that will be, and needs to contain Maryland’s running backs. The Terrapins are fourth in the Big Ten in rushing offense (172.6 yards per game) and Ty Johnson averages 78.1 yards rushing per game. If Johnson isn’t producing, the Wolverines have to focus on Lorenzo Harrison, who averages 47.9 yards per game.

Maryland has used three quarterbacks in its first nine games, and its third — Max Bortenschlager — is a game-time decision due to an upper-body injury, sustained last weekend in Maryland’s loss to Rutgers. Ryan Brand, a walk-on, could become Maryland’s fourth starting quarterback this season, and the Wolverines have little to work with as far as scouting Brand, who is 8-for-12 passing for 68 yards in three games.

2. Continue offensive line’s progression

The Michigan offensive line is finding its footing at one of the most important points of the season. The five-man unit must continue that upward trajectory as it prepares to face Wisconsin and Ohio State in the final two weeks of the regular season. The offensive line needs to continue to work together as a unit and not as five individuals with assignments.

The line’s cohesiveness opens opportunities for running backs to find holes — Michigan has rushed for at least 300 yards in its last two games — and provides better protection for quarterback Brandon Peters, who will make his second start for the Wolverines. Peters completed 8 of 13 passes for just 56 yards and a touchdown last week against Minnesota, but he could have more chances to throw against the Terrapins.

3. Put together a full road game

Michigan plays its first road game since a 42-13 loss Oct. 21 at Penn State. The Wolverines are 2-1 this season in true road games, and play back-to-back road games for the second time since Oct. 14. Following the game Saturday at Maryland, the Wolverines play Nov. 18 at Wisconsin.

Michigan has seen both its best and its worst in its three road games. The Wolverines got a stellar performance from backup quarterback John O’Korn in a win at Purdue on Sept. 23; needed overtime to win at Indiana on Oct. 14; and got routed at Penn State on Oct. 21. The Wolverines, however, showed glimpses of what they could do on the road: one good half in a 28-10 win at Purdue, one good quarter in the loss at Penn State. They have to put together a full, consistent game in all facets at Maryland.

Predictions

Rachel Lenzi: Michigan 30, Maryland 10
Kevin Goheen: Michigan 37, Maryland 13

The post Michigan football vs. Maryland: 3 keys, predictions appeared first on Land of 10.

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