After getting his team to No. 3 in the nation and into the College Football Playoff picture, coach Mel Tucker now faces the task of having to climb back just to win the Big Ten East division.
That road begins on Saturday with a game (4 p.m. ET) in East Lansing against the visiting Maryland Terrapins. The Spartans (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) need to win this game and defeat No. 6 Ohio State on Nov. 20 to have a chance to play for the Big Ten title.
Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) is a longshot in this game, but after MSU showed its porous defense in a loss last week against Purdue, Tucker shouldn’t take anything for granted. He most certainly won’t. Tucker is one of the best coaches in college football, and while rumors are swirling that he will eventually exit MSU for a marquee job in the SEC, Tucker will have his players ready to whup Maryland as a sort of cleansing after their perfect season was ruined.
Michigan State Vs. Maryland Betting Odds
|DraftKings||Michigan State -13 (-110)|
Maryland +13 (-110)
|Michigan State -525|
|Over 61.5 (-115)|
Under 61.5 (-105)
|FanDuel||Michigan State -12.5 (-110)|
Maryland +12.5 (-110)
|Michigan State -500|
|Over 61.5 (-114)|
Under 61.5 (-106)
|BetRivers||Michigan State -12.5 (-109)|
Maryland +12.5 (-112)
|Michigan State -530|
|Over 62 (-113)|
Under 62 (-108)
|Caesars Sportsbook||Michigan State -13 (-110)|
Maryland +13 (-110)
|Michigan State -600|
|Over 62 (-110)|
Under 62 (-110)
Michigan State Vs. Maryland Preview
Here’s the bad news first: Michigan State ranks 113th out of 130 FBS schools in total defense. Opponents are putting up 443.4 yards per game against the 11 defenders in green and white. Ouch.
If Tucker and his coaching staff don’t tighten up the defense, the Spartans will have a closer than comfortable game against Maryland. A defense that bad can keep any opponent, no matter how mediocre, in the game.
The Spartans are also the most penalized team in the Big Ten, and they rank 93rd in the nation in red zone defense. Basically, if a team can get the ball past the 50-yard line against MSU and chew up yards, it can wait until MSU flubs up and gets penalized and then run into the end zone from inside the 20.
So, how can the Spartans be the eighth-best team in college football? It’s the offense and the kick coverage game. The Spartans average 198 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 30th in FBS. They have the dynamic Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III, a Heisman Trophy candidate, who ran for five touchdowns against Michigan two weeks ago.
That spells D-O-O-M for Maryland, whose defense has allowed more than 41 points per game in its last five games. The Terrapins will be giving up size on the defensive line, and the holes should be big for Walker, who may have another legendary day carrying the ball.
Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa, the Hawaiian-born sophomore, has a deserved reputation as a downfield threat with his arm, but he’s also turned the ball over in four of his last six games, and 11 times this season. The Michigan State defense is tied for 28th in the country with 15 forced turnovers this season.
Terrapins and Spartans Game History
Michigan State is 9-2 all-time against Maryland on the gridiron, and 5-1 since the Terrapins entered the Big Ten back in 2014. The only time MSU has lost to Maryland in East Lansing was in 1950 when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House. Nothing will change the fortunes for Maryland this time around either. The Spartans will handily dispatch the Terrapins at home.