There is a pattern over the last 4 years of Penn State doing something disappointing leading up to and Maryland doing something impressive leading up to their game against each other that leads to a sky is falling attitude entering the week by Nittany Lion fans. In reality, 2016 proved to be the first full game that demonstrated what would lead to a Big Ten championship and the last three seasons have been a bloodbath matchup. This week should be a cure for everything that ails Penn State. Did Taulia Tagovailoa figure something out last week or did that game say more about Minnesota than it did about the Terps? Can Penn State manage a better first half than they have yet this season? I do expect a huge game from the two freshman receivers, meanwhile Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth each do their thing as well. In the end, this week should end up as the tune up that one would prefer to start their season.
Penn State 42, Maryland 17
I’m usually a pretty positive guy, but I’ll say this: if Penn State loses to Maryland, it is a very bad sign. Maryland is not good. In fact, they are bad. Their defense is horrendous. Their offense has some good talent wide receiver, but the rest of the offense shouldn’t cause Penn State issues. Taulia Tagovailoa is good in spurts, but an average defense is going to have the upperhand. The offensive line is rather mediocre. Their running back is a 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior who I am shocked to find out wasn’t a former walk-on.
Seriously. By the second half, this shouldn’t be a close game.
Penn State: 52, Maryland: 21
As a teacher in Maryland, Penn State better beat this week’s opponent. Tua’s brother Taulia is pretty good, but I don’t think he can carry his whole squad. Jake Funk is a worse version of Zach Zwinak, imo. Jahan Dotson has another big game, Pat Freiermuth re-emerges, and the running backs actually do okay.
Penn State 48, Maryland 17
Maryland is coming off an emotional upset win over Minnesota to improve to 1-1 on the season. Week 1 their offense looked horrific, last week they torched Minnesota. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Their defense, however, woof. It’s bad. Real bad. Like, worst defense Penn State will play this year bad. Due to this, the Nittany Lion offense starts rolling early and doesn’t look back. Penn State has out scored Maryland 163-6 the past three seasons. Even though Maryland get their first touchdown against Penn State since the Obama Administration, the Nittany Lion dominance continues Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State 38, Maryland 13
I think the Lions right the ship against Maryland, but until I see the offense click, I’m going to hedge my bets a bit. The defense plays pretty well, and the offense continues to work out the kinks, but overall PSU fans will be left feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Penn State 35, Maryland 17
This is the type of game that Penn State needed to start the season to work out its kinks and prepare for stiffer competition. The Terps have been mostly unimpressive on both sides of the ball thus far, and the Nittany Lions should be able to easily outmatch them. However, this is far from a secure victory. Maryland has proven to be dangerous when it shows up, and any form of chaos should be expected during this highly unusual season.
We also don’t know how the 0-2 start is impacting the psyche of the team. While the program has shown great resolve under Franklin, it could be difficult to find the needed-motivation after the thoughts of a playoff berth and conference crown were so quickly dashed. This will be a crucial game that could dictate the remainder of the season. If the team doesn’t show up and drops another game, we could see a tailspin with several more losses. They could also right the ship and have a solid chance of winning out the remainder of the season.
I believe Penn State comes out focused and ready to build on the momentum of a strong second half against the Buckeyes. The offense will begin to settle in under new OC Kirk Ciarrocca in a game reminiscent of the 2016 between the Nittany Lions and Terps when Penn State noticeably turned a corner.
Sean Clifford looks crisp, passing for 275 yards with two touchdown tosses, and most importantly, no turnovers. Jahan Dotson proves he’s here to stay with another standout performance, catching six passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Caziah Holmes makes his first-highlight reel play as Penn State’s new #26 on a 30-yard touchdown run.
On defense, Jesse Luketa makes up for lost time by leading the team with 11 tackles and a forced fumble, while Joey Porter Jr. earns his first interception.
The good guys pull ahead early in the second half as Nittany Lions fans everywhere breath a sigh of relief and finally start to look forward in a young season that can still be salvaged.
Penn State 31, Maryland 14
I think Penn State wins this one, but whether it’s a comfortable beatdown similar to what we’ve seen over the last few meetings, or an absolute nail-biter like the 2015 game where PSU only won by a point is going to depend on whether the offense takes full advantage of a Maryland defense that has given up an average of 45 points, thus far.
I’d like to see more of Kirk Ciarrocca’s play calling from the second half of the Ohio State game where Cliff was allowed to throw downfield right out of the gate, as it could be a big day for Jahan Dotson and the receiving corps. This may also be a good game for Devyn Ford, Keyvone Lee or Caziah Holmes to go off on an opponent that’s had trouble stopping the run.
As for Maryland, Taulia Tagovailoa had a nice breakout performance as he made some great plays with his arm and feet against Minnesota. Yes, Minnesota’s defense is hot flaming garbage, but I still expect Taulia to hit his favorite targets in Jeshaun Jones and Dontay Demus for their share of big plays against a group of PSU safeties who couldn’t pass cover a mannequin. However, it seems that any defense with a pulse (which PSU does have) can give this Terps offense a hard time, so look for the front seven to ultimately handle what still appears to be a shaky Maryland O-line. This would be a great game for either Shaka Toney or Jayson Oweh to get some pressure on Taulia and force him into making some critical mistakes (which Northwestern showed he’s prone to doing).
Penn State 38, Maryland 21