Maryland at Michigan State: The Terps will need to show more fight against the Spartans

J.J. Regan
NBC Sports Washington

Maryland (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) will wrap up its season on the road in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans (5-6, 3-5 Big Ten). The game kicks off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1.

Here's what you need to know.

Who will play quarterback is a question again

Four quarterbacks played for Maryland last week and none was able to find much success. Josh Jackson is listed as questionable for Saturday's game, but it seems likely he will play. Tyrrell Pigrome left the Nebraska game early due to a lower-body injury. Because he is a running threat, you have to wonder if he will be limited this week. Freshman Lance LeGendre dislocated his shoulder and will not play.

Regardless of who plays, the passing game is inconsistent

As a team, Maryland has not completed at least 50-percent of its passes since Oct. 12 against Purdue. That's a run of five straight games. That's a problem in general, but it makes for a more difficult matchup this week given that Michigan State's defense is much better against the run than the pass. The Spartans rank fourth in the Big Ten against the run (103.6 yards per game) and ninth against the pass (215.9). It looks like the Terps just don't have the weapons to exploit that weakness.

A bad offense vs. a bad defense

The key matchup on Saturday might be Michigan State's offense vs. Maryland's defense and not in a good way. Both units have struggled tremendously this season.

The Spartans are usually in contention for the division and not struggling just to reach a bowl game. Don't let last week's 27-0 win over Rutgers fool you, there is no bigger reason for the team's struggles this season than the anemic offense which ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

Heck, even Maryland put up 48 against the Scarlet Knights!

However, if there is a defense the Spartans can exploit, it is Maryland's which ranks dead last in the Big Ten and 107th nationally with 450.9 yards given up per game. There is no part of the defense that is particularly clicking at the moment with the team giving up 186.1 yards on the ground, 264.8 yards through the air and 36.1 points per game.

Maryland still has playmakers on defense

The Terps may be bad on that defensive side of the ball, but they do still have several key weapons.

Senior linebacker and Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones leads the team with seven sacks and has a tackle for loss in 10 of 11 games. He is also 25th in the conference with 63 total tackles, making him one of three Maryland players to rank in the top 25. Linebacker Ayinde Eley leads the team with 79 and safety Antoine Brooks has 65.

Leake needs a bounceback

Maryland's top offensive weapon this season, Javon Leake had a horrendous game against Nebraska with three fumbles. He still managed 10-yards per carry for 80 yards on the day. He leads the team with 716 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

In addition, Leake is one kickoff touchdown away from setting the school's all-time record. His three has him tied with Torrey Smith.

Michigan State needs to win to become bowl eligible

For the second consecutive week, Maryland will be playing a team that must win to become bowl eligible. The Terps have nothing left to play for but pride at this point and that certainly was not enough last week.

There's no nice way to say it, but Maryland looked like it had quit against the Cornhuskers. They were obliterated 54-7 at home against a team that really is not all that good. The Terps will have to show more fight on the road against the Spartans to avoid a similar fate this week.


Maryland at Michigan State: The Terps will need to show more fight against the Spartans originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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