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The Walker Report: Penn State Football Closer to Maryland Than Ohio State and Michigan

Pat Freiermuth
Photo by Penn State Athletics: Pat Freiermuth looks for running room Saturday against Maryland.

On Saturday, Penn State avenged its  controversial 36-35 loss to Indiana when Michael Penix Jr. scored on a two-point conversion in overtime by dominating the Hoosiers 45-14 in a game that they dominated start to finish, and there is no need to talk any more of that performance.

I want to look forward to this upcoming Saturday when Penn State will have the opportunity to correct another debacle from two years ago when they face Maryland at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Penn State fans remember that embarrassing loss to Maryland 35-19, which was not as close as the score indicated, and this was the game that gave birth to what my colleagues on Nittany Sports Now call the “Sean Clifford Experience”. In that game, Clifford completed 27 for 57 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Maryland jumped off to a 35-7 lead and dominated from start to finish and gave this lovely troll job after the game.

Maryland sent a resounding message on that day on the field and in that tweet that there is a new day in this rivalry or divisional conference matchup, whichever anyone wants to spin it.

I mention that to say this: Penn State fancies itself as a great program but looking at their opponent Maryland, a basketball school, their records are similar recently. Penn State is 18-13 overall, 12-12 in the conference, and lost to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl in their only bowl game since the start of the 2020 season. Maryland is 15-12 overall, 8-12 in conference play, and won the Pinstripe Bowl against Virginia Tech last December in that same period.

Right now, whether Penn State fans and alumni want to admit it or not Penn State’s program is closer to the level of Maryland than Ohio State or Michigan and the stats above show as such. And guess what, Maryland is a rising program under head coach Michael Locksley. He is a great recruiter with ties to the south and he is the first Maryland coach in a long time to get their in-state recruits to stay home instead of going to Penn State, Ohio State, and other schools that used to take advantage of the ineptitude of the old Maryland recruiting system.

Now with the name, image, and likeness deal in a school that is about eight miles outside the most powerful city in the world, the opportunity for Maryland to get the talent to pass Penn State in the football program is real. Last year, Maryland completed a $150 million renovation of the Jones-Hill House, formerly known as Cole Fieldhouse, where Maryland’s men’s and women’s basketball teams used to play for their football program.

In other words, Maryland is getting serious about its football program and if Penn State is not careful, I’m speaking about just Saturday’s game but in the future, Maryland could pass up Penn State as a program. Penn State needs to worry about trying to sustain itself as a program and it starts by not only beating Maryland but dominating a Maryland team playing with a compromised quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa on Saturday.

Much like Ohio State and Michigan treat Penn State like they are beneath them, Penn State has treated Maryland as such, and they have the right to with a 41-3-1 all-time record. However, it needs to realize how there are teams out there that are nipping at their heels for their spot for Big Ten “royalty”, and Maryland is on top of the list.

Twitter: @bwalkerdadon

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