Michigan Football kicks off Big Ten game with undefeated bout against Maryland

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Michigan football begins this weekend’s Big Ten game by hosting Maryland in a battle of undefeated teams led by dynamic young quarterbacks.

This will be Michigan and Maryland’s first Power Five test after sweeping their non-conference boards. While Michigan beat three of the country’s worst teams at home, Maryland had a slightly tougher road to 3-0.

The Terrapins have already had one win away, albeit against an overwhelmed Charlotte team. Their more impressive win came last week against previously undefeated SMU.

Strong Maryland offensive

Offense is the name of the game for Maryland, featuring a dangerous passing attack and one of the most prolific running backs in the country.

That running back is Roman Hemby, who rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown against SMU last weekend while catching four passes for another 62 yards. Overall, he has gained 385 yards from scrimmage in three games.

Antwain Littleton II is also a threat off the backfield, with four touchdowns and averaging 9 yards per carry on 12 touches as Hemby’s backup.

But that offense is fueled by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who has completed 77.3% of his pass attempts for an average of 10.2 yards this season. He’s a precise passer, an opportunistic runner, and by far the most dangerous offensive player Michigan has encountered to date.

Tagovailoa has a trio of strong receivers in Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones and Jacob Copeland. All three are major threats so DJ Turner, Gemon Green and Mike Sainristil must be in their games.

defense issues

On defense, Maryland hasn’t been nearly as competent, allowing 392 yards per game, which ranks 89th in the country.

Maryland kept its first three opponents under 20 points per game on average, but given the competition, that run total seems high.

Most of the damage was done last week when SMU amassed a total of 520 yards in College Park. The Terrapins allowed 369 passing yards but limited the damage by picking up two passes and keeping the Mustangs at 3.6 yards per carry.

Maryland also committed 15 penalties and coughed up two fumbles. It’s proof for Tagovailoa and Hemby that the Terrapins found a way to escape with a win.

Michigan’s plan of attack

It’s too early to definitively call Maryland a poor defense against the pass, but to this point it ranks outside the top 100 nationally for passing yards allowed per game.

Michigan has a chance to capitalize on that potential weakness because Tagovailoa isn’t the only dynamic young quarterback playing in the Big House this weekend.

Through two starts and some opener cleanups, JJ McCarthy has compiled one of the most impressive stat lines in the Big Ten. He has completed 30 of 34 passes for 473 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

That’s an 88.2% completion rate and 13.9 yards per pass attempt. He’s also carried the ball 73 yards seven times while taking just one sack.

McCarthy has had enough experience as a true freshman over the past year to know that the Big Ten game won’t be nearly as easy. His numbers are guaranteed to come back down to earth from this weekend.

But if he can take care of the ball, get it to his playmakers and occasionally kick the chains with his feet, McCarthy should be able to put some points on the board against this Maryland defense.

On the other side of the ball, we’re finally getting an idea of ​​what Jesse Minter is all about. Defense success against Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn doesn’t count for much, but playing well against Maryland would build some credibility.

The Wolverines are ranked 4th in the nation and are widely expected to win this game. But there is still an air of mystery surrounding this team because there is no conference schedule. Nobody really knows what to expect.

Michigan can’t lose to Maryland at home and expect to be in contention for another Big Ten title, so this is an extremely important game. It’s about time we got a chance to see this team play some stakes.

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