This weekend, the Michigan State Spartans are home to Ohio State. If they can get through that game, they will be the unequivocal top dogs in the Big Ten, but will still need to win out to have any hope at a playoff berth. In week 12, the Spartans face a solid Maryland Terrapins team that could be primed for the upset. The Spartans will meet the Terps on Saturday, November 15, at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
Michigan State is undefeated in the Big Ten with a 4-0 record, but, as mentioned, two of their toughest opponents lie ahead in Ohio State and Maryland. After taking on Maryland, Michigan State will face Rutgers and Penn State to close out the regular season (who have a combined 2-8 Big Ten record).
One of the Spartans’ key qualities is their balance. They have the fifth best offense in the nation, averaging 45.5 points per game, and the 22nd best defense, allowing just 20.3 points per game. The defensive statistics are, to some extent, a product of playing low-scoring Big Ten competition. In an inter-conference tilt against the potent Oregon Ducks in Eugene, the Spartans conceded 46 points. It remains to be seen if their defense can truly hang with the top offenses in the nation.
The Terps are 6-3 on the year and all three of their losses have come against teams that are or were ranked (West Virginia, Ohio State, and Wisconsin). Arguably their best win of the year, Maryland beat Penn State 20-19 on the road last weekend. They don’t play this weekend and will be well-rested for the tilt against Michigan State. This game will be a rekindling of the Spartans/Terps rivalry. The Spartans have dominated the head-to-head history with four wins in five games, but don’t put too much emphasis on that trend as the teams haven’t met since 1950.
After facing Michigan State, the Terrapins will visit Michigan and then close the regular season at home against Rutgers. While a Big Ten title is likely out of reach, winning two out of the last three should land the Terps in a nice bowl game.
(Photo credit: Cmcnicoll (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)