This Saturday marks a slew of Big Ten showdowns to really get conference play rolling. While there are a few somewhat intriguing contests, the most interesting may be taking place tonight rather than on the traditional college football Saturday. No. 12 Penn State is headed to College Park to face off with the Maryland Terrapins in a significant East Division clash. Maryland started off the year bludgeoning Howard University but then validated themselves in week two with a rout of ranked Syracuse. Then in week three, a close loss to Temple has brought them back down to earth a bit.
That all being said this Maryland team has real talent at the running back position with Anthony McFarland leading the group coming off a stellar freshman campaign. He has already scored five touchdowns in three games and tallied 225 rushing yards which is a little lower than what he is capable of but the rest is really dependent on how the Maryland coaching staff uses him. It’s also important to note that he has three receptions for 59 yards on the season and one going for a touchdown. He will no doubt be key for Maryland’s offense and a point of emphasis for the Penn State defense to stop.
The Nittany Lions have notched an undefeated season in the first three games so far against inferior competition but had a close call against a stronger team in Pittsburgh last week, winning 17-10. The Lions have a strong quarterback once again in Sean Clifford.
Clifford has protected the ball well, with no interceptions so far this season, while passing for six touchdowns. He can also use his feet to get out of the pocket if needed and to run the ball. He has rushed for 113 yards on 25 attempts already this season. The Penn State offense has a fairly balanced rushing attack as well, with sophomore Journey Brown leading the group. Their defense is fairly stout but seems a bit down this year, especially against the run.
In a home game for the Terrapins, they have a shot to pull this thing out if they keep a strong focus on the run while using it to set up the pass. However, I think that Penn State is just going to be too much on the offensive and more so defensive line for Maryland to handle and that strength will win them the game.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Maryland 20
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