This weekend, two Big Ten East squads will kick off their conference slate in East Lansing as the Maryland Terrapins come to town for a visit with the Michigan State Spartans. Get Maryland vs. Michigan State odds, predictions, and picks as our best bet is Maryland -7.5.
Maryland Vs. Michigan State Prediction & Best Bet
There’s little to say about Maryland’s 3-0 start other than the fact that they’ve done their job; a beatdown of FCS Towson and a win over AAC squad Charlotte were par for the course, while a 42-14 rout over Virginia is mildly interesting. On the other hand, things are quickly spiraling in East Lansing, where the team is reeling from the loss of head coach Mel Tucker after the university dismissed him following an investigation into sexual assault allegations.
It’s easy to say that Maryland as a 7.5-point road favorite is an overreaction to the Tucker situation, but it’s almost impossible to overstate how awful the Spartans looked against Washington in the first game following the coach’s firing. The team only generated 261 yards of offense compared to a ridiculous 713 for the Huskies, at a clip of 9.9 per play in the 41-7 blowout, kept from being a shutout by a late consolation score. Washington is a great team, a universe ahead of Maryland to be sure, but the Terps don’t need to win by 34; just by more than a touchdown.
Also worth noting is what a dumpster fire this team was shaping up to be even before Tucker was ousted, which may have happened sooner rather than later for purely football-related reasons regardless of his personal misdeeds. MSU was 2-0 but convinced approximately zero viewers that they were a quality team through their performances against Central Michigan and FCS Richmond, and of course, the resounding loss at the hands of Washington did very little to alleviate the concerns of MSU fans, especially in the wake of the Tucker situation.
After Payton Thorne took off for Auburn, a concerning statement on the state of the program in and of itself, Noah Kim looks completely unable to be the centerpiece of an offense that also lacks dynamic rushing threats or receivers to combat Maryland’s very solid secondary. On the other side of the ball, Taulia Tagovailoa is not Heisman candidate Michael Penix Jr., but he’s a very capable and accurate passer like his NFL superstar brother Tua, and should absolutely lacerate State’s makeshift secondary, ranked 116th in the country by PFF. Overall, this is a total mismatch, and the spread reflects that; even on the road, Maryland should win by over a score.
Maryland Vs. Michigan State Prediction & Best Bet: Maryland -7.5
Maryland Vs. Michigan State Betting Odds
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Maryland is a 7.5 point road favorite, with -110 odds on either side of that spread. For a points total of 53.5, with the under slightly juiced at -115 odds compared to -105 for the over.
Maryland Vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Michigan State’s run defense is their greatest strength, but Maryland won’t mind; they’re perfectly content to go through the air. Let’s take a look at how MSU can attempt to dictate the pace and keep this one close.
Taulia Tagovailoa Vs. Michigan State Pass Rush
Maryland’s offense has been pretty multifaceted so far this year and while you never want to be one-dimensional, they’ll be perfectly comfortable emphasizing the pass when faced with MSU’s formidable run defense. That being said, the same front seven that gives State such a stout run-stopping unit also helps to form a solid pass rush, ranked 37th in PFF’s list. Taulia has been very solid under pressure this season, and Maryland has protected him well, but last year he made just five big time throws under pressure compared to 12 turnover worthy plays, so it will be important for Maryland’s 71st-ranked pass blocking o-line to keep him clean against the best pass rush they’ve seen so far.
Linebacker Aaron Brule leads the way for MSU so far with two sacks, while edge Zion Young and lineman Simeon Barrow are close behind with 1.5 each, highlighting a deep and balanced pass rushing group for State. Brule has racked up these numbers on just 12 true pass-rushing snaps, a pretty impressive ratio. As far as players who have rushed the passer over 40 times, interior linemen Derrick Harmon and Maverick Hansen are PFF’s favorites in the MSU defensive front.
Michigan State Pass Catchers Vs. Maryland Secondary
It may be hard to tell the way Kim has been throwing the ball but even without star receiver Keon Coleman, who has been showing out after a transfer to Florida State, MSU’s pass catching group has been pretty good, ranking 18th in PFF’s receiving grade. Wideout Christian Fitzpatrick has picked up 164 yards on just six catches, while Jaron Glover has put up similar efficiency with 152 yards on seven grabs. Trey Mosley leads the team with 11 receptions, while Kim’s five passing touchdowns are spread out evenly, between Mosley and four others including Antonio Gates Jr., son of the Kent State and Chargers legend.
This positional matchup could be a great one as Maryland’s secondary is PFF’s 13th-ranked coverage unit, as they’re allowing under 200 air yards per game and have picked off four passes. All of those have been snared by cornerback Tarheeb Still, and interestingly enough, lineman Donnell Brown, who have two each. Ja’Quan Sheppard is the other starting corner, and a big transfer get from Cincinnati. Safety Beau Brade is up there with Still on the PFF grade list this year, keeping pace after a very solid 2022. This group has some good all-around talent, and has every ability to match MSU’s high-potential receiving corps.