The Wolverines travel to the University of Maryland this week. Looking to avenge last year’s 23-16 loss at The Big House, Michigan comes in as heavy favorites.
Maryland is 2-2 to start the season, with one loss coming from MAC opponent Bowling Green. Most would consider a Power Five conference team losing to a MAC opponent an upset. Losing 48-27 to Bowling Green isn’t an upset, it’s a beating.
Rushing Offense against Maryland
Roman Braglio, Quinton Jefferson, and Yannick Ngakoue are all names you should know along the Maryland Terrapin defensive line. With all three accounting for 45 tackles this year, they look like a tough group to handle. Sophomore linebacker Jermaine Carter leads the team with 30 tackles, five of them for loss.
Through four games, the Terrapins have given up 920 yards rushing. That’s a 200 yard average per game for opponents, which is perfect for a Michigan team that enjoys the ground and pound.
The Wolverine offensive line continues to mold together and become stronger as the weeks go on. Do not expect a letdown in a revenge game.
The question of the week is the status of De’Veon Smith’s right ankle. Having started the first four games, the running back’s status is unclear. Seen in a walking boot, reports are that it is precautionary measure.
The Wolverines may be without Smith, but they are deep at the running back position. Maryland has been gashed in every contest this season and will now face the best running game they’ve seen.
Passing Offense against Maryland
The Terrapin secondary has had some issues this season but does have some talent. Cornerback Will Likely has five pass breakups and is a terror in the return game. Converted safety Sean Davis, now at cornerback, was picked on earlier this season but has since rebounded. He had two interceptions against South Florida.
Maryland was torched for 491 yards and six touchdowns through the air against Bowling Green, and 300 yards and four touchdowns by West Virginia. They did hold South Florida to 60 yards passing, but the quality of the USF passing game is suspect, so take that for what it’s worth.
Michigan hasn’t needed the passing game much lately, and this one may be more of the same. Jim Harbaugh may continue to sprinkle in a few pass plays to see how effective they are and keep the defense off guard, but don’t expect him to open it up all the way unless they need it. Look for Rudock to throw between 20-25 times if the lead is large enough and the running game is working.
Rudock looked more comfortable last week and came away with zero turnovers for the first time this season. Maryland struggles in coverage and will be out coached.
Rushing Defense against Maryland
One thing Maryland has going for them is athletes. At running back, Brandon Ross leads a stable of runners that could contribute. Ross is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. If he doesn’t have it going, Wes Brown and Ty Johnson will take their turn.
Ryan Glasgow appears to be in competition with Chris Wormley for most impressive defensive lineman. He’s been nothing less than super over the past two games. Helping hold opponents to a total of 328 yards rushing over four games, Glasgow and his line mates are bound to do their jobs and make life hard for Terrapin linemen.
Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan continue to lead the team in tackles with 26 and 21 respectively.
The Wolverines pride themselves in penetrating the line and playing a majority of the game in the backfield. Unless the Maryland offensive line has learned to block in the past week, anticipate a revolving door of running backs as they look for the one that can gain positive yards.
Passing Defense against Maryland
Maryland has played three quarterbacks this year. If you thought Rudock was turnover prone, meet starting quarterback Caleb Rowe. Rowe has thrown four touchdowns and nine interceptions. He and the two other quarterbacks have thrown for a combined nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. If Rowe continues to struggle, expect to see backup Perry Hills.
Wide receivers Taivon and Levern Jacobs are smaller, shifty receivers and can hurt you if you leave them in open space or they get behind the defense.
Maryland picked the wrong time to play this Michigan defense. If the Wolverines aren’t firing on all cylinders at this point, they’re close. After holding Tanner Mangum to 12 for 28 passing and no touchdowns, the secondary will be hoping to best that mark and add a couple interceptions for good measure.
Jourdan Lewis has continued his blanket-like coverage. With quarterbacks attempting to stay away from him, Jeremy Clark and Channing Stribling have seen more work. Clark and Stribling appear up for the challenge and have yet to be victimized for the big play.
Jourdan Lewis and the rest of secondary have been enjoying themselves these last few weeks. The only thing that would make it better is more turnovers. Throwing 12 interceptions, expect that the Maryland quarterbacks will contribute to the secondary fun.
Special Teams against Maryland
Maryland has an X-factor in the punt return game. His name is William Likely and he is likely to make some people look silly on Saturday. Some say he is the best punt returner in the country, averaging 28.1 yards per return. Already housing two returns for 67 and 85 yards, Likely needs to make something happen to give his offense good field position.
The Wolverine special teams are a clear upgrade from previous seasons. The coverage units have been excellent but shouldn’t be over confident when facing a fearless punt returner like Likely. Punter Blake O’Neill probably won’t punt to him.
Likely is a game changer and can break a game open. Michigan should try to keep the ball out of his hands at all cost. If he gets one, hold your breath.
Prediction: Michigan 37- Maryland 7
Michigan will set the tone with its run game and not look back. Maryland may try to do the same to control the clock and shorten the game but will be outmatched physically. If the Terrapins turn to the passing game, they’re playing right into Harbaugh’s plan.
Wolverines should start the Big Ten season strong with retaliation for last season’s home loss.
Who Wins in Week 5?
- Michigan (98%, 212 Votes)
- Maryland (2%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 217
Photo Credit: Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News
- Week One Preview: Michigan vs. Florida at JerryWorld - Sep 2, 2017
- Crossroads: The State of Michigan Basketball - Feb 13, 2017
- Team 137’s Bowl Game Preview: Orange Bowl vs Florida State - Dec 30, 2016