Maryland hit the road for the first time in Week 4 for a game at Michigan State. It was the B1G opener for both programs, and Maryland opened with a bang before putting this game away late.

The performance was far from spotless with the Terrapins falling into a lackadaisical offensive performance in the second half. Fortunately, the Maryland defense stepped up time and time again, and a hot start was more than enough to carry the Terrapins to 4-0.

Here are 3 key takeaways from the game:


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Maryland boots slow start tendencies

Anyone looking for an area of concern from Maryland’s nonconference play did not have to look very far. The Terrapins began their last two games on the wrong side of 14-0 starts against Charlotte and Virginia.

While Maryland overcame those slow starts, the Terrapins were not about to let that happen again. With Taulia Tagovailoa leading the way, the Terps opened up with 3 early touchdowns and a 21-0 lead before a field goal from the Spartans.

This time, the concern comes from an offense that managed just a field goal in the second half before a late touchdown to put things away. Some of that undoubtedly comes from a shift in philosophy after a hot start, but Maryland will be searching for consistency moving forward.

Terrapin defense locks down on the road

Maryland’s calling card under Mike Locksley has traditionally been the offense led by Tagovailoa, but it was the defense that made sure Saturday’s game was not in doubt late into the fourth quarter. Michigan State was just the second opponent held to single digits by the Terps, and it was the second-lowest points allowed this year behind only the season opener against Towson.

A large piece of that performance came from the Terrapins forcing 5 takeaways in East Lansing, including 3 interceptions. Maryland also registered 3 sacks, 6 TFL and 5 pass breakups while holding the Spartans to 102 yards rushing on the afternoon.

Michigan State has a QB controversy among many other issues

To be clear: the current issues in East Lansing run much much deeper than the QB position. And the program as a whole is in a difficult position with Harlon Barnett doing his best to clean up the program in the wake of Mel Tucker’s suspension and pending firing.

Still, the numbers show Michigan State should consider all options with the offense after Saturday’s performance. That included Noah Kim completing 18-of-33 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown with 2 interceptions. Katin Houser did not fare much better but completed 6-of-10 passes for 75 yards with an interception.

Now at 2-2 on the season, things do not get any easier for MSU with a road trip to Iowa City next week. In the middle of a rough season, Michigan State should consider all options moving forward.