People are losing their minds for some reason because Franklin emptied the bench on Senior Day and Nebraska’s starters scored points well after the game was decided. Expect another blowout this week as Penn State finally returns to Maryland Stadium for the first time since 1993, but don’t expect a scoring margin quite as large as that year, 70-7, despite Maryland’s litany of injuries. Anyway, a win should secure a second straight New Year’s Six bowl game.
Penn State 55, Maryland 13
Oh, it's gonna be a great game, and will start with Penn State's captains happily shaking the hands of the Terrapin captains at the coin toss. Penn State's offense will run all over Maryland, scoring within the first few minutes of the game most likely on a kickoff return or McSorley handoff to Barkley and ensuing 50+ yard touchdown run. Penn State won't even have to use kicker Tyler Davis [Ed. note: They’re going for two all game long?], and the Nittany Lion defense will have so many sacks that Santa will be calling them up Christmas Eve to borrow them to haul his toys. Penn State runs away with this one, running up the score before putting in the backups (well into the fourth quarter, please, so PSU doesn't give up 3 plus touchdowns).
Penn State 49 Maryland 9
Franklin was NOT happy with the way the game ended against Nebraska, and Maryland is going to feel that wrath. A hapless Terrapin offense will be completely outmatched by Penn State's defense, while the less-than-stellar Maryland defense will be embarrassed by the Lions' offense. I agree with Dena that the backups will see significant playing time for the second week in a row, but I think this week the reserves hold their own throughout the fourth.
Penn State 56, Maryland 10
Yes, I realize Maryland is 4-7 and will be spending the holidays at home. Yes, I realize they are starting their towel boy at quarterback. Yes, I realize I will probably be opening myself up to much ragging when this game is said and done, but I get a sinking feeling this will be much closer than what some of my colleagues are predicting. Maryland, much like Pitt, treats the Penn State game as their Super Bowl in which they declare their season a success or failure as a result and will come out looking to spoil a potential New Years' Six bowl bid for PSU. The offense should have little trouble scoring on the Terps, but I still have a few concerns with the defense (backups getting torched by Nebraska's starters notwithstanding) and think the loss of Apke for a half could be an issue. While I'm definitely predicting a Penn State win, I think covering a 22-point spread on the road against a team that gets up for them the way PSU gets up for Ohio State is probably asking a little too much.
Penn State 42, Maryland 27
Penn State closes out the season in style, as Saquon Barkley has another huge game running the ball, and the Nittany Lions get a defensive touchdown off of poor Max Bortenschlager to crush any hopes of a Terrapin upset. Look for Tommy Stevens and Miles Sanders to play a lot in the second half.
Penn State 45, Maryland 17
Maryland blows. The End.
Penn State 392, Maryland 3
The backups are backups for a reason. Penn State’s current starters were once backups. Even Barkley was a backup before he took hold of the starting spot. So let’s not overanalyze what happened last week much and worry that it’ll carry over to this week. Unlike Maryland, Nebraska still had a prayer of making a bowl game had they won. Unlike Maryland, Nebraska’s injury situation is not that dire, in the grand scheme of things. Unlike Maryland, Nebraska actually has the weapons to air it out and give an inexperienced secondary a game. Like Nebraska, though, Penn State will put this one away at halftime and run the clock out from there.
Penn State 52, Maryland 21
Maryland has some talent at running back and especially wide receiver, and is a legitimate quarterback away from having a prolific offense. Whether Max Bortenschlager or Ryan Brand end up under center on Saturday, the Terps should be able to move the ball in spots. But in the end, they won’t have enough firepower to keep pace with Penn State’s offense, who can score in bunches against a defense of Maryland’s caliber.
While playing Nebraska certainly helped, the Nittany Lions seem to be over the disappointment of losing consecutive games and watching their playoff hopes slip away. The Nittany Lions still have plenty to play for, and should be ready to take care of business to earn their 10th victory and an appearance in a New Year’s Six Bowl.
Saquon Barkley closes out the regular season in style, rushing for 160 yards with another 50 receiving, and his second consecutive three-touchdown game. DaeSean Hamilton has his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season that includes two touchdowns, while Juwan Johnson continues his late-season hot streak with 80 receiving yards and a score of his own.
On defense, Brandon Smith contributes 10 tackles and a fumble recovery, while Grant Haley picks off a pass to help put the game away for good.
Penn State 42 Maryland 21