Michigan struggled against Maryland. That much is not up for debate. Chalk it up to injuries or the magnitude of playing Ohio State, but Michigan did not live up to expectations. The Terps seriously threatened to win the game for large stretches of the match, and were never really ‘out’ until about five minutes remained in regulation.
Michigan was leading by five with five and a half minutes left, and Maryland had the ball. The Terps were backed up inside their five after a Kenneth Grant sack and needed a big play to convert a third-and-18 to stay alive.
Maryland broke the huddle with four receivers against man coverage with no safeties deep. At the snap, Rod Moore sprinted back from inside the box to play cover one, with all four receivers still matched up in single coverage. Taulia Tagovailoa dropped back and looked deep, targeting a go-route down the sideline. His receiver, Tai Felton, stood at 6-foot-2, four inches taller than cornerback Mike Sainristil. It was a good matchup for the Terps. But, the ball fluttered in the air and started to drop early, leaving Mike in prime position to make a play.
The cornerback jumped into the air with inside leverage and got his hands on the ball, reeling it into his body as he crashed back to earth with Felton.
The Terps were done after that. They got the ball back but got called for intentional grounding in the end zone resulting in a safety. Michigan ball for the last time. Game, set, match. 1,000 wins. Mike’s pick drained the last hopes of an upset from the hopeful Maryland crowd.
In all honesty, there were a number of plays that could be the turning point. Michigan needed to clutch performances to step up, and players like Mike Sainristil stepped up when the lights were brightest. Of course, the big test comes on Saturday when Michigan hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes in the matchup of the year. Once again, veterans like Sainristil will be called on to deliver for their team.