The No. 14 Michigan Wolverines looks to keep its outside chances at a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game — and the College Football Playoff — alive when it takes on the host Maryland Terrapins Saturday. The Wolverines are coming off a big non-conference victory over Notre Dame last weekend, while the Terrapins were blown out by Minnesota by 42 points.
Michigan currently sits at 3-2 in the Big Ten East, two games behind both Ohio State and Penn State, with each team having four games remaining in their conference schedule. Maryland is sitting in sixth place in the division standings at just 1-4 in league play and come into this game with a three-game losing streak.
The moneyline for this contest has the Michigan Wolverines -1800 and the Maryland Terrapins +950. Michigan is a 22-point favorite on the road, while the over/under for the game has been set at 55.5.
Starting To Roll
Last week’s 45-14 win over then-No. 8 Notre Dame was just what the doctor ordered for Jim Harbaugh’s club, but it may have been triggered by the loss to Penn State the week before. Much like their blowout loss earlier in the season to Wisconsin, the Wolverines fell behind early, trailing 21-0 midway through the second quarter. But a rally that pulled them within seven points twice — and nearly saw Michigan tie it in the closing minutes — showed the explosiveness of the Wolverines’ offense, which seemed to translate to the win over the Irish.
Freshman Zach Charbonnet has been the leader of the Wolverines’ ground attack, rushing for 531 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Quarterback Shea Patterson can also get some yards on the ground, but he’s better when going to the air, having thrown for 1,622 yards and 11 touchdowns. Ronnie Bell is Patterson’s favorite target, leading the Wolverines with 25 catches for 441 yards, though he’s coming off a one-catch performance in the win over Notre Dame.
Maryland started the season by scoring 142 points in its first two games, but the Terrapins have scored a total of 117 in the six games since, going 1-5 over that span. It’s been a merry-go-round at quarterback for the Terrapins due to injuries, with Tyrrell Pigrome, the starter in the last three games, leaving last week’s game with a knee injury. The starter from early in the season, Josh Jackson, returned from an ankle injury to replace Pigrome but lasted just one series before Tyler DeSue took over under center. Pigrome has been practicing this week, and either he or Jackson is expected to get the start this week.
The Terrapins’ defense has been having its own troubles, ranking 13th in the Big Ten in scoring defense (29 points per game) and total defense (424.1 yards per game). Maryland is last in the league against the pass, so look for the Wolverines to try to put this game in Patterson’s hands early to open up a lead.
Can They Cover?
There isn’t much question that Michigan is going to win this game, considering how it has been playing and what it has to play for compared to Maryland. But can the Terrapins keep it closer than the 22-point spread? Unfortunately, they haven’t shown the ability to do that for the most part, losing by 42 to Minnesota, 26 to Purdue, and 59 to Penn State. I’m taking the Wolverines -22 to win this one in a laugher.