UMD Back at Beaver Stadium
Homecoming week is here and our dear neighbors from below are visiting this Saturday. As many fans may recall, the last time we invited the Terrapins over in 2014, Maryland’s captains did not shake Penn State captains’ hands during the coin flip and they later beat us by one point with a field goal in the final minute. In middle-aged neighborhood party terms: We invited our neighbors to the family-friendly party that we graciously host biyearly. They, already visibly hammered, walked in, blurted out PG13 words without warning the kids to put on their earmuffs, scooped out the middle piece of lasagna, drank the nice liquor that we planned on consuming after the children were put to bed at a decent time, and projectile vomited in, on and all around our potted plants.
Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014 so they absolutely wanted to make a powerful statement early on, but their sportsmanship was questionable at best. Nonetheless, they beat Penn State for the first time since 1961. The next year, we played them on their home turf, shook their hands and beat them by a point.
This game on Saturday is of the utmost importance for James Franklin and the team because with a solid win we will be 4-2 going into the bye week, and then Ohio State is coming to town…
Our shaky yet gritty overtime win against Minnesota last week has kept our momentum going, and we are the favorites to win against UMD, but it’s important to not underestimate our opponent. There is nothing more in the world that the Terps want to do than to upset us on Homecoming. Their high-powered offense, led by Senior duel-threat quarterback Perry Hills and a plethora of quality running backs, is averaging 43.3 points per game and a win would would improve them to 5-0 under first-year Coach DJ Durkin.
It’s extremely important that our defense can stay strong against Maryland’s rushing attack. Marcus Allen put impressive numbers on the board last week with 22 tackles, the most single-game tackles by a Nittany Lion since Penn State great Paul Posluszny in 2005. But what we really need is for our offense to move the chains early. We cannot afford another slow start, and that begins with the offensive line firing off of the line with reckless abandon to open up lanes for Saquan Barkley to do his magic. It’s tough for a halfback to run with any ounce of confidence when he immediately has to break multiple tackles just to pass the line of scrimmage. Barkley only averaged 2 yards per carry before his game-winning run, totally unacceptable numbers from an exceptional talent. If the offensive line plays well, we win.
If still unconvinced that Penn State will win this game, look no further than the difference in strength of schedules between both teams. Penn State has played in much closer games than Maryland this season because Penn State’s schedule has been much harder. Maryland’s blowouts of Howard, FIU and Purdue look impressive until you realize that they were against Howard, FIU, and Purdue (a.k.a. easy money).
All in all, this should turn out to be quite the exciting Homecoming matchup. Let’s hope James Franklin gets the team hyped up from the very start (and let’s hope kicker/hero Joey Julius throws the hammer down on another returner). To Maryland: Don’t think you have a new rival.