Maryland vs. Michigan: how to watch, listen, three storylines

Maryland (6-4, 3-4 B1G) vs. #2 Michigan (10-0, 7-0 B1G)
When: Saturday, Nov. 18 | 12:10 p.m. EST
Where: SECU Stadium
Watch: FOX – Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
Listen: 105.7 FM (Balt) / 980 AM (DC) – Johnny Holliday, Steve Suter, LaMont Jordan
Betting: Maryland +19; O/U: 50 (DraftKings)

Maryland will look for its first win against a top-five team in 19 years when they host second-ranked Michigan for senior day. Maryland remains a near three-touchdown underdog heading into kickoff, while Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh remains sidelined after the school dropped its complaint on Thursday morning. The Wolverines’ coaching staff took another hit on Friday morning as linebacker coach Chris Patridge was relieved of his duties with Rick Minter serving as interim assistant.

While the Wolverines will look to stay undefeated in the midst of controversy, what do the Terps need to do to pull out a win on senior day? We dive into three storylines to watch.

Battle of the Big Ten’s top QBs

There’s little doubt that Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy have been the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten for 2023. The two veterans rank first and third in the Big Ten in passing yards and both have the skill players at their disposal with each team having at least four players with 20 or more catches. There’s also a chance of them taking off and making a big play with their legs. McCarthy and Michigan might not pass as often as Lia and the Terps, but that doesn’t take away how dangerous they are through the air. McCarthy has completed over 76% of his passes, averaging over ten yards an attempt, with only three interceptions on the season. He’s also not afraid to run, as evidenced by his three rushing touchdowns. The Wolverine offensive line deserves a lot of the credit, giving up only 12 sacks on the season and giving McCarthy time to go through his progressions. While Michigan has plenty of receivers that can do damage, Roman Wilson has been their top guy. He is second in the Big Ten in touchdown catches, only behind Marvin Harrison Jr. Cornelius Johnson stands at 6’3” and is averaging 17 yards a catch on the season. Tight ends Colston Loveland and AJ Barner are a match-up nightmare, both over 6’5”, and the defense cannot let running back Donovan Edwards run free.

Let’s not forget about the quarterback on the other side of the field, as Taulia leads the Big Ten in both passing yards, touchdowns and all-purpose yards. He also holds just about every single passing record in Maryland history but is still looking for the big win to cement his legacy as the best Terp QB ever. Saturday will give him his final chance to do so. The Terps have just as many weapons at receivers as the Wolverines do, with Jeshaun Jones, Corey Dyches, Kaden Prather, and Tai Felton all with over 35 catches on the year. Roman Hemby is one catch short of 30 and can break a long one at any time, as can Octavian Smith. Back-up tight end Preston Howard has impressed with his limited touches, showing off great athleticism. The only thing that has held the passing game back has been drops at critical times.

A battle between two great quarterbacks always has the potential of a shootout. These two can keep up with each other and it could lead to a fun game. But don’t expect the defenses to just sit back and let the offenses have their way. Maryland and Michigan are first and second in the Big Ten in interceptions and both are coming off games allowing less than 100 yards passing. These quarterbacks need to remain patient, take what the defenses give them, and hope to hit on a big play at the right time. Whoever comes out on top will be named the top guy in the conference.

Michigan’s Rushing Attack

While Michigan’s passing attack is not to be taken lightly, running back Blake Corum has been their most valuable player. Corum made the surprising decision to return to school in the spring and has continued his dominance. The nation’s leader in rushing touchdowns has already reached his total (18) from last year on almost 100 fewer carries and is one shy of 50 career. Corum is coming off his best performance of the season last week against Penn State, rushing for a season-high 145 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan’s 24-15 win. The 5’8” back has an equal amount of power and speed, as Maryland saw last year when he rushed for 243 yards. Limiting the damage Corum can do might be the biggest thing the Terps can do to keep this game close, as difficult as it may sound. Linebackers Jaishawn Barham, Ruben Hyppolite, and Caleb Wheatland will need to be at their best. Back-up Donovan Edwards hasn’t had the same success on the ground, as he did in 2023 but a breakout could happen at any time. Being the better receiver of the two also means that the Terps need eyes on him in passing situations. Don’t forget about third-string Kalel Mullings, who’s rushing for over six yards a carry.

A running game can only be as strong as the offensive line in front of it, and Michigan has one of the best in the Big Ten. All but one of the starting lineup have started over 30 games in college and have been a wall for the Wolverine offense. Starting guards Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter were both All-Big Ten selections last year. Center Drake Nugent came over as a graduate transfer from Stanford and has held down the spot all year. Tackle LaDarius Henderson has twice been named Offensive Player of the Week. Karsen Barnhart has made starts at both left and right tackle this year.  The Terps need to find a way to get past this line and make Michigan a little bit uncomfortable.

The Terps’ rushing defense has had its good days, like holding Ohio State to under two yards pers carry, and bad days, like Penn State rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Against Corum and this Wolverine rushing attack they will need to be at their best. Barham, Hyppolite, Wheatland, along with defensive linemen Jordan Phillips, Tommy Akingbesote, Donnell Brown, and others need to be in the backfield early and often.

Michigan’s Well-Rounded Defense

As good as the Wolverine offense has been, their best play has come from the other side of the ball. Michigan leads the nation in both yards and points allowed. They have also forced the second-most interceptions and fumbles in the Big Ten. Now they are facing a Maryland team that has turned it over six times in the last two games. Protecting the football is a must in this game considering the Wolverines’ defense doesn’t seem to have a weakness anywhere. Linebackers Junior Colson, Mike Barrett, and Ernest Hausman are the Wolverines three leading tacklers. Defensive ends Josaiah Stewart and Jaylen Harrell are tied for the team lead in sacks, with Derrick Moore making a massive jump in his second year. Potential first-round pick Kris Jenkins is a force on the interior. The secondary might be the scariest part of the defense, as they might have the deepest unit out of anyone in college football. Former wide receiver Mike Sainristil leads the team with three interceptions. Right behind him are sophomores Will Johnson and Keon Sabb with two, who could be the leaders of the unit in 2024. Josh Wallace was a graduate transfer from UMass with 40 starts in the defensive backfield. Seniors Quinten Johnson and Makari Paige are dependable backups. Rob Moore might be their best defensive back as he was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last year. The defense as a whole rarely makes mistakes and seems to always be at the right place at the right time. Last year, Maryland scored the most points on the Wolverines’ defense during the regular season. For a repeat, Lia, playing in his last home game, and the playmakers need to do what no other team has done this year. Find the holes by any means necessary. Don’t be surprised if head coach Mike Locksley has a few tricks up his sleeve throughout the game. Michigan itself cannot get caught looking ahead to next week, as this Terp offense will be ready to take advantage if they are not paying attention.

Senior Day

Before the game kicks off, Maryland will honor 24 seniors: DB Caleb Agotho, OL Gottlieb Ayedze, S Beau Brade, OL Corey Bullock, DL Isaac Bunyun, DL Tre Colbert, TE Corey Dyches, OL Conor Fagan, DB Rex Fleming, LS Jake Foggia, DL Quashon Fuller, OL Delmar Glaze, LB Sean Greeley, OL Aric Harris, LB Ruben Hyppolite II, K Evan Johnson, OL Amelio Moran, OL Mike Purcell, DB Ja’Quan Sheppard, LB Gereme Spraggins, DB Tarheeb Still, QB Taulia Tagovailoa, DL Christian Teague and LB Riyad Wilmot.

Saturday marks the end for the first wave of Mike Locksley additions with multi-year starters like Taulia Tagovailoa, Beau Brade, Corey Dyches, Ruben Hyppolite and DJ Glaze leaving lasting imprints in the ascension of the program. Maryland will also honor the Terps who joined the program from the transfer portal like Quashon Fuller, Ja’Quan Sheppard, Corey Bullock, Gottlieb Ayedze, Tre Colbert and Ja’Quan Sheppard who filled in key roles either as starters or rotational pieces during the 2023 season. While head coach Mike Locksley will turn back to recruiting mode to bring a handful back for the 2024 season, Saturday marks the final chance for the integral pieces to rise to the occasion as the Terps look for the first win against a top-five team since the ’04 win vs. Florida State.

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