Maryland Terrapins vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
The Records: Penn State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten); Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
The Coaches: Penn State: James Franklin, third season, 41-29 overall, 17-14 at Penn State; Maryland: DJ Durkin, first season as a head coach, 4-0 overall.
The Game: It’s homecoming in Happy Valley as Penn State welcomes alumni and Maryland to Beaver Stadium for the second game of a three-game home-stand during Big Ten conference play.
Maryland comes to State College after dismantling Purdue 50-7 last Saturday in the Terrapins’ Big Ten opening game. The Terrapins boast both a scoring offense and scoring defense that rank among the top-15 nationally.
Penn State will be only the second team Maryland has faced this season with a winning record prior to kickoff, the other being Purdue last week. If the Nittany Lions want to continue their winning ways, they will need to stop a rushing attack that averaged 8.7-yards per carry last week. The Terrapins finished with 400-yards on the ground against the Boilermakers with Ty Johnson leading the way with 204-yards on seven carries.
Neutralizing the rushing game will prove to be big for Penn State, a team that has continuously dealt with a lack of depth at linebacker since the early part of the season. Through the air, the Nittany Lions will have to deal with senior quarterback Perry Hills who’s currently averaging 137.5-yards per game.
Quarterback Trace McSorley leads the way for Penn State on the offensive side of the ball as the sophomore continues to shine in Joe Moorhead’s newly installed offense. McSorley leads the Big Ten in passing yards so far this season after throwing for 335-yards last week against Minnesota. The dual-threat quarterback also had 73-yards on the ground in the overtime victory.
McSorley will get a weapon back in his arsenal as Saeed Blacknall returns from injury this week and returns to a talented wide receivers unit that already has Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton.
The last two times these teams have met since Maryland joined the Big Ten (prior to the 2014 season) have been decided by a single point with each team getting a win on the road. Saturday’s game will be the first test for Durkin’s Terrapins as it’s the first road game where the home fans will have a significant impact on the game.
While Maryland comes into the game 4-0, the Terrapins have played against the likes of Florida International, Central Florida, Howard and Purdue. The 3-2 Nittany Lions will be a major test for Maryland, but as long as Penn State wins the turnover margin and can neutralize the running game for the Terrapins, the Nittany Lions should be able to move to 4-2 on the year heading into the bye week.
Time: 12 p.m. EDT
Location: Beaver Stadium. University Park, PA.
TV/Radio: BTN/Penn State Radio Network
Prugar’s Prediction: Penn State, 38-34
Image credit: Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports