Unbeaten Maryland opens the BIG 10 portion of its schedule on Saturday when they take on No. 4 Michigan, the defending conference champions, at The Big House in Ann Arbor.
In their opening three games this season, the Wolverines beat up on Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn like George Foreman clobbered Joe Frazier when the undefeated heavyweights squared off for the championship in ’73.
Foreman pummeled Frazier as if he had stolen his momma’s rent money. Michigan’s victories were just as brutal, defeating their opponents by a combined score of 166-17.
Maryland took care of business against Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU, but the Terps have shown some problematic tendencies, both on defense and in accumulating penalties.
In their last two games, they’ve surrendered 661 passing yards and six touchdowns.
During last week’s game against the Mustangs, it seemed as if a major part of the game plan was to challenge Norv Turner’s 2005 Oakland Raiders as the most penalized squad in football history.
The Terps had 15 penalties for 141 yards during their narrow 34-27 win over SMU.
That lack of discipline, combined with a pass defense that’s been softer than Drake’s lyrics on “Come and See Me,” will have Michigan slapping them around like Big Red whacked Bird in “The Five Heartbeats.”
Maryland’s hopes of pulling out an upset victory rely solely on the arm of spectacular junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who’s completed 77.3% of his passes for 895 yards and six touchdowns.
And he’ll need a ton of support from his gifted receiving corps of Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones, Jacob Copeland and Dante Demus, all of whom need to bust some big runs off after the catch.
Redshirt freshman running back Roman Hemby, the Edgewood native who played his prep ball locally at John Carroll, ran for 151 yards and one TD against SMU and is averaging a robust 9.2 yards per carry this year. He’ll need to have a monster game as well.
Last year against Michigan, Tagovailoa was merely average, going 19-of-33 for 178 yards and a touchdown in the Terps’ 59-18 drubbing. On Saturday, he can’t be anything less than superb because the Wolverines are bullying teams on the ground like Debo in “Friday.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh’s offenses have always centered around a mauling line and dominant running attack. This year is no different, with the unit having piled up 694 yards and 15 touchdowns in three games.
The engine behind that supremacy is the diminutive running back wonder who played his high school ball right here in Baltimore at St. Frances: Blake Corum.
Corum has rushed the ball 34 times for 235 yards and seven touchdowns. Look for him to have a big game against a Terrapin defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese.
Maryland hasn’t beaten Michigan since Robin Thicke was ripping off Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” in his smash 2014 hit “Blurred Lines”, and the Wolverines are 6-1 in their BIG 10 openers during the Harbaugh era.
Maryland is looking to prove that they’re ready to run with the big boys in the BIG 10, but after giving up 520 yards to SMU last weekend, that scenario doesn’t seem likely — at least not now.
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