No. 14 Penn State goes into its Matchup against Maryland at Beaver Stadium Saturday as a 10.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Maryland is coming off a sluggish performance at Wisconsin, where it produced its lowest offensive output in the season in a 23-10 loss. Penn State dominated Indiana on the road, 45-14.
Although Penn State won’t win the Big Ten East, it still has an opportunity to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Maryland game could have extra motivation since Maryland handed Penn State an embarrassing 35-19 loss the last time these teams played in Beaver Stadium. That game took place in an empty stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that won’t be the case Saturday when the stadium will be packed with 100,000+. The fans being back will help Penn State immensely, and here are three other things the team can do to beat Maryland.
PRESSURE TAULIA TAGOVAILOA
Penn State has the advantage in the trenches with its defensive line vs. Maryland’s offensive line. Tagovailoa may be getting healthier, and he’s a mobile QB who can make big plays if he has time in the pocket. Penn State needs to get home on the pass rush like it did last week against Indiana, when they recorded six sacks and a school-record 16 tackles for loss. The one chink in the armor of that outstanding defensive performance is Penn State letting Indiana QB Jack Tuttle scramble and get yards when plays broke down. Tagovailoa is a much better athlete and quarterback and will do more damage if Penn State can’t get to him.
DON’T TURN THE BALL OVER
I say this every game, but if Penn State turns the ball over, it will most likely lose this game.
Maryland has the offense to not only get big plays down the field with wide receivers Rakim Jarett,
Jacob Copeland, Jeshaun Jones and tight end Corey Dyches, who are all averaging at least 11 yards per reception. They can also play ball control by using Roman Hemby, who averages 6.2 yards a carry, and Antwain Littleton, who averages six yards a carry. Maryland’s offense is way better than how it played in Madison last weekend, and if “Bad” Sean Clifford shows his head Saturday, then Penn State will be in trouble.
KEEP HANDING THE BALL TO KAYTRON ALLEN AND NICK SINGLETON
Last week, Wisconsin ran for 276 yards and averaged more than six yards a carry against Maryland. Maryland is a team that’s a little bit smaller relative to other Big Ten defenses, so I expect a lot of Kaytron Allen early in the game to wear down the defense, and then bring in Singleton for the home run. Bold prediction: Singleton will break at least two 30-plus yard runs, and Allen will grind his way to more than 100 yards.
Penn State should using its greatest asset to shorten the game and keep Maryland’s offense on the sidelines.