Instant reactions: Maryland 31, Michigan State 9

It wasn’t always pretty, but Maryland football found a way to dominate in East Lansing in a 31-9 win over Michigan State. Saturday’s win marked the first win in East Lansing since a 34-7 win back on October 7, 1950, but the Terps now move to 4-0 for the second time in three years. We break down the instant reactions from Saturday: 

Ideal start on both sides of the ball for Maryland

After winning the opening kickoff, Michigan State drove 26 yards on six plays before Beau Brade jumped the route to come down with Maryland’s first takeaway of the game, setting the offense up on the Spartans’ side of the field. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa found three different receivers on the opening drive, including what should’ve been a touchdown from Tai Felton to set the offense at the one. Maryland had no issues, though, as Sean Greeley hauled in his first career touchdown on a play action from Tagovailoa.

The Spartans would respond with a 15-play drive spanning nearly eight minutes, but a goal-line stop preserved the early lead. Noah Kim escaped the pocket before Quashon Fuller made the stop at the one-yard line on third down, setting up the third TFL of the quarter as Beau Brade and Fa’Najae Gotay teamed up for a fourth down stop.

The offense pinned back at their own five-yard line didn’t faze them as Colby McDonald added 34 rushing yards to an 11 play, 95-yard drive that ended in six.

Michigan State would find itself in an early hole, down 14-0 at their own 31, before Donnell Brown registered his third takeaway in as many games to set the offense up with a short field.

Five plays and 32 yards later, it was Taulia Tagovailoa who once again found himself in the endzone, this time on the ground, to help Maryland move to 21-0 just 20 minutes into the game.

After finding themselves in early deficits over the last two weeks, the start to Saturday’s road game was the perfect response as Maryland looked to correct that since jumping back into a normal practice schedule. Maryland’s next question is playing a 60-minute game, but the efficiency to start the game on both sides of the ball made it clear that the Terps were the better team.

Taulia helps fuel Maryland’s offense early

Taulia was 11-of-16 for 91 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns through the first half in undoubtedly his most efficient half through the early stretch of the season, but fans held their breath in the closing minutes of the first half. On 3rd down of the final offensive drive of the first half, Taulia took a hit driving him out-of-bounds in an injury that appeared to reaggravate his left arm.

Mechanically, that didn’t appear to make an impact as Taulia returned under center for the second half though the efficiency took a dip. Taulia finished 10-of-20 with both one touchdown and interception the rest of the way, with the redzone interception coming on the second drive of the second half to squander one of Maryland’s five takeaways.

The passing attack that was able to drive full steam ahead slowed into the second half as they’ll look to play 60 minutes back at home against Indiana next weekend, but still, Taulia found eleven different receivers in the win.

Kaden Prather finished with a team-high six catches, while Felton led the way with 67 receiving yards. Jeshaun Jones was seemingly absent through the first-half as he didn’t record a stat in the win. Both Sean Greeley and Tyrese Chambers found the endzone for their first career TDs as Terps, while Octavian Smith’s 31-yard touchdown catch with three minutes remaining sealed a win that looked already in hands.

Turnover Galore

Takeaways were a concern for Maryland’s defense heading into the season, but after showing signs of optimism through the first three weeks, the Terps’ efforts into Spartan miscues were the difference in the game as Maryland finished with six takeaways in the win.

Beau Brade kicked it off with an interception on the first defensive series of the game, while Glen Miller added to that in the third quarter. Donnell Brown, meanwhile, came away with his third takeaway in as many weeks with a fumble recovery, while Tarheeb Still’s interception at the Maryland 8 with just over six minutes remaining helped seal the win.

After making it 31-0 with three minutes left, Kobi Thomas recovered the fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving the offense a short field that ended in another missed field goal.

The Spartans surely entered Saturday short-handed with multiple starters sidelined, making the path to a win to open conference play even more viable, but the Terps were able to stop Michigan State from finding its groove as interim head coach Harlon Barnett turned to three different quarterbacks. Michigan State would end up finishing with more yards on Saturday, 376 to 362, on nine more plays but the five takeaways proved to be the difference as the veterans stepped up in Brian Williams’ second year as defensive coordinator.

Heading into Indiana, Maryland has outscored opponents 77-15 in the second halves of games this season.

Concern in the third phase? 

Many questioned who would replace Chad Ryland this offseason after watching him become the new kicker in New England. Jack Howes went into the season as the undisputed starter at kicker, but Saturday marked arguably his most concerning performance after finishing 1-for-3, with misses from 29 and 40 yards.

Surely Maryland was able to turn heads on special teams after Colton Spangler was able to tuck it and run on a punt attempt to end up sending the offense back on the field, but Maryland will look to address the kicking game heading into next weekend.

Maryland will host their Big Ten home opener against Indiana on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 3:30 p.m., in a game that will air on Big Ten Network and the Maryland Sports Radio Network.


-Maryland has started 4-0 overall for the second time in three seasons.

-Maryland has won its Big Ten opener for the first time since 2021

-Maryland has won its first game in East Lansing since defeating the Spartans, 34-7, back on October 7, 1950

-LB/TE Sean Greeley hauled in a one-yard touchdown, his first career touchdown, in the win. The last defensive player to score on offense for the Terps came when linebacker Kendall Ogle scored on a rush against Northern Illinois on a 1-yard rush in the season opener on Aug. 31, 1996.

– Greeley became just the third player in the FBS since 2012 to force a fumble and catch an offensive touchdown in a game joining Jack Colletto (for Oregon State vs. Utah on Oct 23, 2021) and Adoree’ Jackson (for USC vs. Notre Dame on Oct. 17, 2015).

-WR Tyrese Chambers hauled in a 12-yard TD, his first touchdown as a Terp.

-TE Corey Dyches has now caught at least one pass in 18 consecutive games.

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