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No. 14 Penn State vs. Maryland: Game Preview

Penn State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Nittany Lions return home for

(#14)Penn State (7-2, 4-2) vs. Maryland (6-3, 3-3)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium, State College, PA

The Betting Line: Penn State -10 (Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.)

TV: ABC, 3:30 p.m. - Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analyst) *no sideline reporter listed in game notes

Weather: A comfortable but cool day with a high of 52 degrees that will drop into 40s throughout the game. Some sunshine is expected with a small chance of rain in the morning.


James Franklin:

PENN STATE RECORD: 74-36, 9th Year

OVERALL RECORD: 98-51, 12th Year


Mike Locksley:

MARYLAND RECORD: 19-26, 4th Year

OVERALL RECORD: 21-52, 8th Year



Penn State leads the all-time series with Maryland 41-3-1...Sean Clifford has 1,101 career passing yards against Maryland in three games...Penn State is 12-4-2 all-time in games played on Novmber 12, including a memorable 35-31 victory over Illinois in 1994...Penn State defeated Bellefonte Academy 12-0 on that date in 1906, and tied NYU 13-13 in 1927.


Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa sets the pace for the Maryland offense, oftentimes carrying them to great heights. Unfortunately, Tagovailoa has been forced to miss time for injuries this season, and his return to the field did not turn out as hoped against the Badgers. Tagovailoa was just 10 of 23 pass attempts for 77 yards, and was sacked five times.

The performance was an outlier, as he’s performed well - at imes exceptional - throughout the season. He has a 70 percent comletion rate, and is averaging 260 yards through the air per game.

Tagovailoa does an outstanding job of spreading the ball out so defenses can’t key on any partucular passcatchers. The top six reception leaders all have between 21-34 receptions, which includes two tight ends and a running back. They also have similar yardage totals, with a range of 239-376 yards, and all have between one and three touchdowns. The Terps have enough depth and versatility to pinpoint and attack weak spots found in a defense.

Running back Roman Hemby has seen his role in the offense grow, and you should hear his name frequently on Saturday. Hemby will look to build off the momentum from the past three games where he amassed 352 rushing yards and four scores. He is also part of the aforementioned cluster of productive receivers, with 26 catches for 239 yards on the season.

Penn State’s defense will be looking to meet Hemby prior to the line of scrimmage, as they are coming off a game with a program-record 16 TFLs. However, Maryland’s offense is far more dynamic and will offer more balance and explosiveness to keep the defense honest on Saturday. Maryland’s offensive line have been allowing more sacks during the past few weeks, which could also be great news for a Penn State defense with a tenacious pass rush that is coming off six total sacks against Indiana.


Maryland’s defense is led by playmaking safety Beau Brade. The junior loeads the team with 60 tackles (19 more than any other Terp defender), including three TFLs and two interceptions, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Outside linebacker Jaishwan Barham causes problems of the edge, with three sacks and four TFLs. The Terps can also get pressure from the interior with defensive tackle Greg China-Rose, who leads the team with four sacks after picking up two against Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Terps have struggled to defend the pass, allowing 239.7 yards per game (tied with Texas State for 84th nationally). Considering this, a big day from Sean Clifford would go a long ways as the Terps secondary could easily become overwhelmed with the likes of Parker Washington, Mitchell Tinsley, Brenton Strange, etc. If Cliffod is on, Penn State could pull away early. If not, the Terps will hang around.

Maryland does slightly better against the run, allowing 137.8 yards per contest (57th nationally). The Nittany Lions plan of attack will still be to establish the run early with Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton, then attack downfield. There is a chance Keyvone Lee returns this week, adding some depth at running back after Allen and Singleton have been carrying the load during the past three games.


Chad Ryland is in his fifth season as kicker for the Terps, and has been nearly automatic within 50 yards. Ryland has a big leg, so the Terps are not shy about attempting long field goals. Ryland has a career high of 55 yards, and has at least one field goal of 51 yards or more in each of the last five seasons.

Punter Colton Spangler is also very experienced in his fourth year as the Terps’ punter. He has a fantastic average of 46.1 yards per punt with a long of 63 yards on the season.


Penn State-35, Maryland-16

This game is always circled on the calendar for the Terps. We know they will show up and give their absolute best effort, but you know what? So will the Nittany Lions.

The defense will feed off the energy from the home crowd, and play tenacious ball for four quarters as we’ve come to expect. Tagovailoa will be able to get a few drives going, but the defense will buckle down in the red zone. He will also be forced into mistakes at key points. The offense will be able to get enough consistent ground game and big plays in the air to maintain a lead throughout.

Maryland comes in playing chippy and makes it challenging for Penn State, but the Nittany Lions get enough big plays on both sides of the ball to go ahead for good in the second quarter.