The Penn State Nittany Lions and Maryland Terrapins have played 42 football games against each other. In 39 of these match ups the Nittany Lions have come out on top. Combine this with the two schools being in bordering states and how well the Nittany Lions recruit the DMV and it is easy to see why Maryland fans dislike the Nittany Lions.
Each team is coming off a bye week heading into Friday night’s clash in front of what is expected to be a record crowd at Byrd Stadium. The Nittany Lions will be looking to remain undefeated, while Maryland is looking to bounce back from being upset by Temple their last time out and to climb back into the top 25 with a win.
To learn more about the Terps we caught up with site editors Lila Bromberg, Cody Wilcox and Sean Montielof SB Nation’s Maryland site - Testudo Times. Let’s dive in!
Black Shoe Diaries: What is life like now under Mike Locksley? What have been some changes that can already be seen under the new coaching regime?
So far, everyone within the team is really high on him and it seems like a great fit. There’s a palpable culture change for the better and you can tell the guys on this team will play their hearts out for him already. But Friday’s matchup is a big test to see who he is as a head coach.
Black Shoe Diaries: Outside of Anthony McFarland Jr., who are the major offensive threats that Penn State fans should be aware of?
Although McFarland receives the majority of the carries, Maryland’s second running back, Javon Leake, is very talented. Leake, along with McFarland, is one of the Terps best playmakers. He offers a change of pace at the running back position, and is one of Maryland’s kick returners. Don’t be surprised if you see formations that include both McFarland and Leake in Friday’s matchup.
Black Shoe Diaries: Maryland so far is among the best run defenses in the nation so far this season, what has been the key to that success so far?
The transfer additions of linebackers Shaq Smith (Clemson) and Keandre Jones (Ohio State) have played a major role in stopping the run. Both had the talent to play at power programs and were great gets for Locksley.
Black Shoe Diaries: Josh Jackson is off to a good start but he isn’t exactly being the most efficient passer (50% completion percentage), where or when has he struggled the most so far this year?
Jackson has been a revelation for the Terps thus far, as the quarterback situation has been in flux for years, whether it was due to poor play or injuries. But they say a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line, and that has been the biggest reasons for his struggles.
Against Temple, Jackson was under pressure all day long. The Owls registered four sacks on him, and that’s not including the barrage of hits he endured just after releasing the football. In that game, Maryland lost its starting right guard, Terrance Davis, to an MCL injury. He’ll be out for a few weeks, and that could make Jackson even more vulnerable to the pass rush.
Black Shoe Diaries: How can Penn State exploit Maryland’s defense? Where are Maryland’s strengths on defense?
As you mentioned before, Maryland’s strength has been in stopping the run. Through three weeks, none of the Terps’ opponents have been able to establish the ground game, forcing them to attack through the air.
And that’s where Penn State can defeat Maryland. The secondary has left a lot to be desired, giving up chunk plays often, including a 79-yard touchdown against Temple. If Sean Clifford and KJ Hamler can connect for some explosive plays on Friday, the Nittany Lions will be in good shape.
Black Shoe Diaries: What does Maryland have to do on Friday night to beat Penn State?
If Maryland is going to be successful against the Nittany Lions, the Terps are going to have to keep quarterback Josh Jackson off of his back. Maryland will be without its most experienced offensive lineman, Terrance Davis, and will cause others to step up.
Just under two weeks ago against Temple, the Terps were unable to stop the Owls pass rush, which finished with four sacks and multiple quarterback knockdowns. It appeared as if Jackson could not get into a rhythm because of that. But in the first two games when Jackson got more protection, the Virginia Tech transfer appeared to be more confident and in a rhythm. The game will be won or lost by Maryland in the trenches.
Black Shoe Diaries: What is your final score prediction and Maryland MVP?
Lila: 35-24, Penn State. I think Anthony McFarland Jr. explodes for a big game, but Maryland can’t do enough to grab the win over a much more experienced squad.
Cody: 27-24, Maryland. The home crowd with Penn State’s first road game of the season and a talent Maryland roster combine to steal one from the Nittany Lions. My MVP is Linebacker Shaq Smith with multiple sacks and a forced fumble
Sean: 38-24, Penn State. Given the loss, Maryalnd won’t really have an MVP. But I’ll say that cornerback Tino Ellis makes a few big plays, maybe even grabbing an interception.