History and Maryland’s schedule thus far would seem to indicate it shouldn’t be much of a game for Penn State this week. The Nittany Lions are the best team the Terps have to date by far, however, Penn State’s defense can’t shut anyone down and the offense disappears for large portions of games. A complete game destroys the Terps, instead expect to have to fight tooth and nail and hope for a narrow victory.
Penn State 27, Maryland 24
Here's the thing, losing is bad. PSU needs to do less losing. Luckily, I think they don't do any losing this week because A) it's homecoming (yay!) and B) it's Maryland (Boooo!). Saquon goes for 150 plus and Perry Hills turns the ball over lots and lots of times on the way to a happy ending (no, not that.) for PSU.
Penn State 39, Maryland 22
Ugh. As the season has gone on, this game has taken on more and more meaning. Is Maryland good, or have they just played terrible teams? Is Penn State bad, or have they just played good teams? This weekend should help shed some light on both teams, but my confidence is NOT that high. I'm taking Penn State at home, but I don't have much confidence in this pick.
Penn State 35, Maryland 31
It doesn't mean as much as you think that Maryland is 4-0. We'll get some pressure on Hills and may force a turnover or two. Barkley, Godwin and McSorely will have the offense under control.
Penn State 31, Maryland 14
A lot of focus has been placed on Maryland's performance against Purdue. They rushed for 400 yards, and didn't need to throw the ball at all, which explains their sub-100 yard day through the air. They seemingly haven't needed to throw the ball at all this season, because Perry Hills only has 73 passes on the season, while Maryland as a team has 90. That's good for 112th in the nation. You know what teams like Michigan, Minnesota, and Pitt have in common? They've passed the ball over 40 more times than Maryland on average. Maryland will need to have a balanced attack if it wants to come out with a victory on Saturday. If they try to pass the ball 13 times like they did against Purdue, Penn State will absolutely adjust (like they have against everyone so far) and make their lives miserable. Penn State's run defense may not be very good, but it's not Purdue. Maryland will not be rushing for 400 yards on Saturday. They're going to have to pass the ball.
The other side of the ball, the one where not many people seem to be focusing on, is untested. The most efficient offense they've faced to date is UCF, and that was a game where they went to overtime. If Maryland isn't ready to stop Penn State's arsenal of weapons on offense, it will be a long day for the Terps.
Penn State 56, Maryland 17
Last week I had Penn State losing 35-31 to Minnesota. The Nittany Lions ended up winning. Do you catch my drift?
Maryland 35, Penn State 31
I picked Maryland to win in the B1G schedule picks, so I suppose I should stick with that selection. Maryland's rushing attack keeps the ball away from an otherwise explosive Penn State offense, and the depleted defense struggles to slow down the Terrapins.
Maryland 34, Penn State 31
Much like with Minnesota last week, my head says to pick the bad guys, but my heart won't allow me to do so. Thus, I'm predicting that while the Terps will pick up their fair share of rushing yards against a shaky PSU front seven, that same PSU defense will still make enough timely stops to either stop Maryland from scoring (yes, I'm calling it - Maryland will suffer its first turnover of 2016 on Saturday [Ed. Note: Maryland has already turned the ball over]) or hold them to a field goal.
Meanwhile, Trace McSorley not only gets the passing game going again, but his improved decision-making on run-pass options will lead to him picking up his share of yards on the ground, which in turn will lead to the Terps' defense not keying in on Saquon Barkley 100% of the time, which in turn will allow some breathing room for Mr. Barkley, which in turn will...I think you know where this is headed by now, so I'll stop.
tl;dr - Penn State 30, Maryland 27
Imagine owning a classic Ferrari, being confined to the passenger seat, hands bound, and forced to watch a 16-year old learn to drive a manual transmission.
Anyhow - like last week, this is another game against a similarly experienced, less talented (according to starz), but healthier conference opponent who has taken far better care of the football than we have to this point. Our best hope - like last week - is that we hold onto the ball while Godwin, Thompkins, Barkley, and McSorley do something special on 10 out of 70 plays to produce 28-ish points. Then pray that it's enough.
Like last week, I don't expect it will be enough. Perry Hills - aka, 5th-year McSorley - improves upon last season's 350 yard romp. Avoid the innernets until Monday evening. Maybe Tuesday.
Score: Disco Inferno
Because of the rain...
Penn State 27, Maryland 21
It’s true that we don’t know how good the Terrapins are yet, but I found the way they dismantled Purdue with a dominant rushing game and smothering defense to be quite impressive. That doesn’t make Maryland a lock to defeat Penn State in this game, and I’m still kind of surprised that the Lions are home underdogs, but let’s face it: Penn State was very fortunate to escape the Minnesota game with the Governor’s Victory Bell in hand.
Maybe the Lions will start to figure out their third down issues against a Maryland defense that hasn’t been tested very hard yet. Maybe Penn State’s rush defense finally shuts an opponent down and forces its quarterback to win the game. Maybe Saquon Barkley looks like a Heisman Trophy candidate for more than just two or three plays in a game.
All those things are possible, and all those possibilities make us excited to watch Penn State play football, but I’m not going to believe in those things until they start to happen, so Maryland is the pick.
Maryland 30, Penn State 27