Week 13 Big Ten: Maryland at Michigan

    Maryland (6-4) at Michigan (5-5) Nov. 22, 3:30, BTN Here’s The Deal: Will Muschamp has already been fired at Florida – sorry, he decided to step down. Is

    November 21, 2014

    Maryland (6-4) at Michigan (5-5) Nov. 22, 3:30, BTN 

    Here’s The Deal: Will Muschamp has already been fired at Florida – sorry, he decided to step down. Is Brady Hoke next? There are still two big chances for the Wolverine coaching regime to make a statement, needing to beat Maryland this week to become bowl eligible, and then – at least for Hoke to even think about saving his job – there needs to be a huge win over Ohio State to ruin its potential run for the playoffs. The way the Wolverines are playing, it doesn’t seem likely to win both games, but they’re on a nice streak winning three of the last four games with two weeks off since the ugly 10-9 survival moment against Northwestern. The offense might not be working, but the defense continues to be among the best in the country and had carried the team over the last month. 

    Maryland already has a bowl bid wrapped up, at least bowl eligibility, but it could use a really good win. Beating Michigan right now might not qualify as a signature victory, but it would be a good moment for a program that’s having a good first season in the Big Ten. With Rutgers at home to close out the regular season, the Terps could come up with a strong eight-win campaign that could be a nice stepping-stone record to set the expectations higher for 2015. 

    This is the fourth meeting between the two, with Michigan winning the last matchup 45-17 in 1990 and taking all three games by a combined score of 106 to 38. 

    Why Maryland Might Win: Michigan still isn’t doing anything with its passing game. The running game is at least passable at times, at least compared to earlier in the season, but there just isn’t any consistency whatsoever through the air, failing to throw a touchdown pass in five of the last seven games with 11 picks during the span. Devin Gardner has had his moments, completing 76% of his passes against Indiana, but struggling mightily the week after against Northwestern with just 109 yards and two interceptions. Can Maryland somehow get off to a good start and make the Wolverines press? Maryland is 33rd in the nation in pass efficiency defense, while Michigan is 112th in passing efficiency. 

    Why Michigan Might Win: It’s not like the Terps are cranking up the offense, either. After shocking Iowa in a 38-31 win, Maryland has managed 42 points over the last three games. Granted, playing Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State had a lot to do with it, but there isn’t enough of a running game as is, and it’s not going to go anywhere against the Wolverine defensive front. Can Maryland get into a defensive slugfest? It did it against Penn State, but Michigan’s defense is stronger. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Maryland has to get a huge game out of WR Deon Long. With Stefon Diggs ailing with a lacerated kidney, Long needs to do more than the three catches for 61 yards he came up with against Michigan State. With just one touchdown on the year – coming in the opener against James Madison – and one 100-yard game coming against Indiana, he’s overdue for a big performance. The Terps need it. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Neither team has any offensive pop at the moment, but the Wolverines have the stronger defense. Without Diggs, Maryland’s passing game is going to continue to stink, and there won’t be any running game. 

    Prediction: Michigan 20 … Maryland 13 
    Line: Michigan -4.5 o/u: 42 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: HBO’s State of Play – 1: Euros of Hollywood … 2.5 

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