Penn State and Maryland are oddly getting the ABC treatment and it’s also a Game not many will know what to do with in the betting market. Both teams have been all over the place this season, but the Nittany Lions still have the bigger brand and were -13.5 point home favorites with an over/under of 54.5 as of Tuesday.
This could be a letdown spot for Maryland after it put everything into beating Ohio State last weekend and fell short in overtime. Then again, it’s still playing for a bowl and has shown it can contend with top teams. The other side to that is the Terps already lost by 21 points at Michigan and 23 at Iowa with their closest road Game in Conference play being the 34-32 loss at Indiana.
As for the Lions, they scratched past Rutgers 20-7 last Game and that could be reason enough to go against them. They’re still ranked and have the ability to dominate weaker teams, but they’ve already struggled against the likes of Illinois and Indiana in Conference play, though those have come on the road. For Maryland to have a chance it needs to play much better defense and considering this is a better group than Rutgers, that could be possible.
The Nittany Lions are getting wins, but the offense has been hard to count on as Trace McSorley just went 17-of-37 for 183 yards against Rutgers. He hasn’t had more than 183 yards since the Indiana win and hasn’t thrown for more than 220 yards in the last six Games. McSorley can be a great quarterback, but behind a weak line and without any stand out wide receivers, he’s struggled more than at any point in his career. That’s why they’ll likely lean on Miles Sanders to do most of the work and he has 50 carries in the last two Games. If Maryland can stop Sanders to less than five yards per carry, that could be enough to stay competitive. against Rutgers, Sanders was at just 3.3 ypc and according to the numbers, the SCarlet Knights have one of the worst rush defenses in the country.
Of course, if Maryland doesn’t score, it may not matter what the defense does. The Terps have 83 points in their last two Games, but also scored just three points total against Iowa and Michigan State, while PSU has given up 17 points in the last two Games.
LUckily for the Terps, the worst part about Penn’s defense is stopping the run, as they give up 177 rushing yards per Game and 4.1 yards per carry. That plays into the hands of Anthony McFarland, who has a ridiculous 508 rushing yards in the last two Games. He’s averaging 8.2 yards per carry for the season and Maryland is averaging 6.0 ypc as a team. If McFarland can keep that going against a mediocre rush defense, there’s no reason why the road team can’t cover. If that doesn’t work, well, there isn’t much hope for the Terps because Tyrrell Pigrome hasn’t exactly shown much throughout his short career and he attempted only 13 passes against Ohio State, his first start of the season.
The Terrapins are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 road Games and 2-9 ATS in their last 11 road Games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Nittany Lions are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home Games vs. a team with a losing road record and 4-1 ATS in their last five at home. There are no trends between these schools in their short history, but Penn State won this Game 66-3 last year in a much different situation.
Our Pick – Maryland +13.5