Penn State vs. Maryland prediction and game preview. The Terrapins look to stay undefeated when they visit the Nittany Lions on Saturday.
Penn State vs. Maryland Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – Noon ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Penn.
TV Broadcast: Big Ten Network
Maryland’s first 5-0 start in 15 years is within reach, something few – if anyone – predicted before the season began. Coach DJ Durkin left as defensive coordinator at Michigan to take over a program that hasn’t won a bowl game since 2010 and won three games all of last year. He has the Terps rolling along with solid defense and a new-look, up-tempo offense.
Unfortunately for Penn State, it’s been much of the same. Coach James Franklin is in his third year following back-to-back 7-6 campaigns, and the Nittany Lions still appear to be a middling Big Ten team without any clear upside. Saquon Barkley has been struggling, and the defense is leaving a lot to be desired.
What to Know About Maryland
New offensive coordinator Walt Bell – whose only 32 years old – has the Terrapins running an effective and efficient scheme that’s averaging 466.3 yards per game, which is nearly 100 more than they averaged last season. They went three games without turning the ball over before Perry Hills’ first-quarter interception last week. It didn’t matter much, though, as Maryland routed Purdue, 50-7, behind 204 yards rushing from Ty Johnson, who was named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the week.
The Terps also finished with their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Boilermakers to 10 rushing yards and 205 total. Their 42 plays of 10 yards or more allowed are the second-fewest in the conference behind Ohio State’s 40, and their 3.5 sacks per game are the second-most behind Michigan’s 3.8.
What to Know About Penn State
Franklin’s seat stayed a little cooler with last week’s 29-26 overtime win over Minnesota that almost wasn’t. The Nittany Lions needed Tyler Davis’ 40-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation to tie the game after allowing the go-ahead kick less than a minute prior. It was a sigh of relief for Penn State, which was crushed 49-10 the previous week at Michigan.
The win moved Penn State to 3-2, but the offensive numbers still don’t look very good heading into a matchup with one of the league’s best defenses. Barkley rushed 20 times for 63 yards, 10 fewer than quarterback Trace McSorley, who completed just 19 of 40 passes. Barkley is considered one of the nation’s better running backs, but he hasn’t exceeded 20 carries in any of the last four games and hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark since the opener.
Offense: Maryland – Johnson averaged 29.1 yards per carry last week. You read that correctly.
Defense: Maryland – Penn State is allowing an average of 216.6 yards rushing, which ranks 12th in the 14-team Big Ten.
Special Teams: Maryland – The Terps are allowing the fewest yards per punt return and second-fewest per kick return.
Coaching: Maryland – Durkin is doing with Maryland what Franklin has been expected to do with more resources at Penn State.
Intangibles: Penn State – The Nittany Lions picked off Hills three times in last year’s 31-30 victory in Maryland.
Matchup To Watch
Maryland’s offensive depth vs. Penn State’s problematic defense
Fifteen different Terps have caught a pass this season, and that includes Hills’ 21-yard reception from receiver D.J. Moore. Seven players have at least 88 yards rushing and all of them have at least one touchdown on the ground. Penn State might be in for a long afternoon.
Spread: Maryland -1
Penn State vs. Maryland Prediction
Maryland being favored to win at Penn State is an accomplishment in itself. The margin is a solid bet, too, as Hills will toss two touchdowns and run for another in the Terps’ victory.
Penn State vs. Maryland final score prediction: Maryland 38, Penn State 27