Penn State Nittany Lions (-6.5, 48 o/u) at Maryland Terrapins
Despite a valiant effort, Penn State (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) was no match for the number one team in the nation, falling 38-10 to Ohio State last weekend. Now, the Nittany Lions, who had won five straight, will look to start a new streak this Saturday when they visit the Maryland Terrapins (2-4 0-2 Big Ten) at M&T Bank Stadium (3:30 PM Eastern).
Penn State hung in for a while against the Buckeyes and even led 3-0 after the first quarter. But Urban Meyer’s embarrassingly talented offense proved too much at the end of the day, racking up three TDs in the second quarter and cruising to a 28-point win (which saw them cover the 17-point spread). The Lions’ usually stout defense was torched for 429 total yards in the contest.
The game changed when Ohio State decided to bench starting QB Cardale Jones in favor of JT Barrett, who is more of a dual-threat pivot. Barrett only completed four passes for 30 yards, but two of them were for touchdowns, and he also added 102 yards and two majors on the ground.
“I thought we were playing pretty good when it was a traditional drop-back quarterback, traditional drop-back, go through your progression. Now Barrett comes in and his speed and athleticism; those guys, the combination of the tailback, the quarterback, and Braxton Miller, those three guys just played [at] a different speed”, said Penn State head coach James Franklin.
Though they played hard, Penn State will need better results from the defense this week; the team will also need a bigger day from QB Christian Hackenberg. Once a highly touted NFL draft prospect, Hackenberg has failed to live up to his potential for most of his sophomore and junior seasons, including last week when he went just 7-13 for 120 yards and one touchdown.
Hackenberg will have a good chance to get back on track this weekend facing a Maryland team that has dropped three in a row and is allowing nearly 35 points per game. Mike Locksley, who was the team’s offensive coordinator, is now the interim head coach after the university fired Randy Edsall.
Edsall was let go after the Terps’ own blowout loss to Ohio State two weeks ago (49-28). Still winless in conference play, Maryland and their new coach know they face a steep climb.l
“[W]e’re playing in the Eastern Division of the Big Ten, which in my opinion is the toughest division in college football. We’re off to an 0-2 start, but we still have time. We’re going to show up, and we’ll play,” said Locksley.
Maryland beat Penn State, 20-19, last season, covering as three-point dogs. However, the Nittany Lions defense is still a force to be reckoned with – the Ohio State game notwithstanding. Look for that to be the difference maker come Saturday and the Lions to cover the 6.5-point spread against a rebuilding Terps program.
Pick: Penn State -6.5.
(Photo credit: Ben Stanfield (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)