Michigan State looking to get back on track against struggling Maryland
Who: Maryland vs. No. 7 Michigan State
When: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Spartan Stadium, Michigan State
Spread: Michigan State -15.5
Matchup to watch: Jack Conklin vs. Yannick Ngakoue
One the the B1G’s best pass rushers will battle against one of the best offensive tackles in the country. Ngakoue has been one of the few bright spots during a tumultuous season in College Park. He’s on the verge of setting Maryland’s single-season sack record, despite the fact that he’s played on a defense that has struggled repeatedly in 2015. Conklin will be tasked of doing what the Spartans have done as well as anybody in the B1G — protect the quarterback. Connor Cook normally doesn’t have a problem against a single pass-rushing specialist, but Ngakoue is one of the best. The Michigan State line is still only playing in its third game together all season, so miscommunications against a talent like Nagakoue won’t fly.
Thing I’m excited to see: Michigan State’s response
Something tells me last week’s crushing loss didn’t leave the best taste in the Spartans’ mouths. They’ve listened to people talk all year about how great both of their rivals are, despite the fact that they were undefeated. Mark Dantonio doesn’t have to say it, but his team doesn’t like getting disrespected. Nobody does. I would expect a motivated group to come out firing and not take Maryland lightly. I don’t even think the Spartans took Nebraska for granted, but I expect them to keep their foot on the gas against an inferior opponent this time.
Number to remember: 127
Maryland is dead last in turnovers this season. A whopping 30 times the Terps coughed up the ball and ruined a chance to sustain a drive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. That can’t happen. You don’t beat average teams, much less one of the nation’s best, by giving possessions away. Michigan State has been susceptible to long drives. The depleted secondary can be picked apart when the pass rush wears down, which could easily happen if the MSU line spends the afternoon chasing Perry Hills around. But Hills or Caleb Rowe or whoever is playing quarterback for Maryland will inevitably make mistakes, which MSU has to capitalize on. If Arjen Colquhoun catches that Tommy Armstrong pass in the end zone last week, we’re still talking about an undefeated Michigan State team. Against Maryland, there should be plenty of those plays that MSU will have to take advantage of.
Prediction: Michigan State 42, Maryland 21
I just don’t see a world in which MSU doesn’t come out clicking. I think this proves to be another monster game for Connor Cook and Aaron Burbridge, who have been the best one-two punch in the B1G. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hills rack up plenty of rushing yards, or see Will Likely gash a vulnerable MSU special teams unit. But MSU will still get what it wants offensively and pick up a convincing win before its monster showdown in Columbus.