After the lows and highs of weeks one and two, the craziness of the 2020 Maryland football season is just getting started. Week 3 could be just as wild.
This game is a must win for the Penn State Nittany Lions, whose season is starting to dwindle away.
Penn State will need to make big changes over past games to save their season, and that will start with improvements in their struggling running game. Penn State’s lead back, Devyn Ford, wasn’t able to surpass the 40 yard mark last week, and the team in total wasn’t able to even reach 50 total rush yards vs Ohio St. In addition, through two
weeks, the team’s leading rusher is Quarterback Sean Clifford. The story has been the
opposite for the Terps rush defense on the ground this season though, as Minnesota was able to accumulate a total of 262 yards on the ground last week. The team who is able to improve their run game could be the decider in this game. The Nittany Lions offense has been better in the air this year, as Clifford threw for 281 yards vs Ohio State
last week, but that’s also where the Terps defense has been better. Maryland’s secondary hasn’t allowed more than 215 yards in the air yet this season, however this number is skewed due to how poorly they’ve defended the run. Similarly to Minnesota offensively, the Nittany Lions have a star receiver who the Terps will need to stop,
Jahon Dotson, who is tied for the Big Ten lead in receiving yards. Last week Maryland was able to contain the Golden Gophers star, Rashod Bateman, and they will need to do the same this week if they want a chance to stay in the game. Penn State also has a top-caliber tight end in Pat Freiermuth, who the Terps will need to find a way to stop.
The ground game will be key this week on the defensive side for the Terps. If they can’t stop Penn State at all, then it could be a similar game on that side of the ball as it was week one with Northwestern.
Over on the other side of the ball, Maryland will need to do the exact same thing they did last week against Minnesota. Taulia Tagovailoa was able to throw for just under 400 yards last week and running back Jake Funk ran all over the Golden Gophers, accumulating 221 rushing yards. Penn State’s defense did struggle last week on the
ground, giving up over 200 yards on the ground against Ohio State. If Penn State’s defense is going to be successful against Maryland they will need to revert back to what they did week one where they held Indiana to just 41 yards on the ground. If they can
do that, stopping Taulia Tagovailoa will become much easier. To stop Tagovailoa, they will need to pressure him and get him as flustered and mistake-prone as he was against
Northwestern. Maryland will need a miracle to pull off another upset like they did last week vs Minnesota. Penn State is 25 point favorites and given a 97.1% chance to win by the
ESPN Football Power Index this week. But in a rivalry game and during a time in which Penn State loses their home field advantage, I will say the same thing that I have every week so far. Anything is possible. If the Terps can stop Penn State’s ground game, and play good enough defensively in the air, they will give their offense a chance to do what they did last week and shock the world. As we learned last week anything is possible, and Maryland is going to try and prove that vs Penn State
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