Maryland vs. Penn State: TV, radio, betting odds, game preview

Maryland (5-3, 2-3 B1G) vs. #9 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 B1G)
When: Saturday, Nov. 4 | 3:35 p.m. EST
Where: SECU Stadium
Watch: FOX – Jason Benetti, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
Listen: 105.7 FM (Balt) / 980 AM (DC) – Johnny Holliday, Steve Suter, LaMont Jordan
Betting: Maryland +8.5; O/U: 50 (DraftKings, as of 1 PM, Nov. 3)

Maryland will look to end its three-game slide this weekend when the Terps return to SECU Stadium against ninth-ranked Penn State.

Maryland will look to pull off its first win against Penn State since 2020, but more importantly, they’ll look to pick up the sixth win of the season in a season-changing opportunity on Saturday afternoon. So what does Maryland need to do? Who do the Terps need to be mindful of? We dive into three storylines to watch on Saturday.

Bounceback game from Maryland’s defense

Statistically, Maryland and Penn State sit nearly identical in multiple offensive categories despite the Nittany Lions rolling with first-year quarterback Drew Allar. A big part of that success is Penn State’s success with their rushing attack, led by Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen. The duo combine for just under 105 rushing yards per game while averaging just under four yards per carry through conference play, but with the Terps’ defense coming off arguably its worst performance of the season littered with missed assignments and tackles, wrapping up will be priority number one.

Penn State may not pose the same threat vertically as Ohio State and Illinois did, though wide receiver Keandre Lambert-Smith gives Ja’Quan Sheppard a chance to prove himself as a lockdown corner on the big stage. Ohio State tight end Cade Stover was able to find success in the soft spots in Maryland’s defense in the week six loss, and the defense has another tight end to prep for with Theo Johnson leading the unit. The junior enters the weekend 176 yards shy of 1,000 career receiving yards.

To limit Penn State’s big plays, it starts with the rushing attack. For Maryland, that includes the most complete performance yet from a front seven that will face a stiff test in the trenches.

Control the line of scrimmage

Olu Fashanu, a former lineman out of Gonzaga (DC), headlines the Nittany Lions’ unit with Cornell transfer Hunter Nourzad as the starting center. Head coach James Franklin said that right tackle Caeden Wallace is expected to return but Drew Shelton could draw the start at right tackle in his absence this weekend. Still, Penn State’s unit has largely lived up to expectations this season after allowing 11 sacks through eight games, the third-fewest in the Big Ten.

Ironically, the Terps lead the Big Ten in sacks (19) in conference games as Donnell Brown, Kellan Wyatt, Fa’Najae Gotay and Caleb Wheatland have loomed large in the Terps’ pass rush. Against Penn State, the Terps will need them to loom largest. Maryland has also found ways to get creative in the past with Tarheeb Still and Glen Miller becoming assets in run support out of the nickel, while Beau Brade continues to showcase himself as a big-hit safety. Finding ways to outnumber or overpower the Nittany Lions’ front will be priority number one as Maryland looks to disrupt Penn State’s potential success through the air.

On the other side of the ball, Maryland’s offensive line has largely held up this season as they’ve allowed 14 sacks, including 11 sacks in conference play. While Ohio State undoubtedly proved to be a stiff test for the unit, Saturday’s test against Penn State will arguably be even tougher as edge Chop Robinson is expected to suit up against his former school. He’s only one piece for them with Adisa Isaac, Abdul Carter and Curtis Jacobs all flashing within the front seven. One season ago, Penn State overloaded the Terps’ protection to rattle Taulia Tagovailoa through the first quarter. Penn State’s defense boasts more talent than it did last year, and while the Terps’ offensive line has been able to show flashes, they’ll need their biggest performance of the season to give Taulia Tagovailoa time to ignite the passing attack.

Penn State’s defense is coming off a humbling performance against Indiana, though, and the Terps will look to counter the front seven with screens while potentially getting Roman Hemby involved on swing plays. Head coach Mike Locksley noted that Colby McDonald “earned the right” for an increased role in the rushing attack, but how much success should the Terps expect on the ground after a season filled with inconsistencies? How the offensive line holds up against Penn State’s pressure will determine that.

A chance to right the ship

Since taking over as the head coach at Maryland in 2019, Mike Locksley is 1-10 against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State despite multiple close games. Despite nearly upsetting Michigan on the road and Ohio State at home, it was Penn State who blanked Maryland, 30-0, in Happy Valley last fall.

Fans remained optimistic that 2023 could be the year the Terps pull off the longtime desire, but since Maryland’s first chance to do so in Columbus, not much has gone right for Maryland.

Consecutive deflating and frustrating defeats sent Maryland 5-3 (2-3) with growing pessimism surrounding the postseason odds. Though the spread has dwindled, Maryland still remains a comfortable underdog heading into Saturday with a season-changing game ahead of them. While picking up the sixth win of the season would quiet season critics, doing so against Maryland’s biggest challenger in recruiting would be the defining game that they need.

Want to listen to more on the matchup? Make sure to check out the latest episode of Young Terps where we dive into both sides of the ball, Maryland football’s recent decommit plus the latest on five-star Derik Queen.

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