No. 4 Michigan vs. Maryland

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The No. 4 The Michigan football team opens Big Ten play on Saturday with a home bout against an intriguing Maryland team. Like the Wolverines, the Terrapins are 3-0, haven’t faced a Power-Five opponent yet but have shown the makings of an explosive offense. The comparisons may end there, however.

Below, we break down four keys for Michigan as it looks to move to 4-0 on the season. We take a look at two keys on both sides of the ball, then make our final prediction for the matchup.


Don’t strike out looking for the home-run pass play

As in seasons’ past, Maryland’s defense is suspect, particularly in pass coverage. The Terrapins allowed 292 yards and three touchdowns to Charlotte, then 369 yards and three touchdowns to SMU. By our calculations, Maryland surrenders a missed tackle, penalty or 10-yard gain on 40 percent of its defensive passing snaps. And of 86 Big Ten cornerbacks and safeties to play at least 40 coverage snaps so far, Maryland’s Beau Brade is 11th in passer rating allowed, Tarheeb Still is 27th, and six other Maryland players rank outside the top 30. Michigan, by comparison, had four of its six qualified players inside the top 20.

In other words, Michigan will have an opportunity to sling the ball around the field Saturday.

But SMU’s offensive success in its loss to Maryland last week in a way offers a how-to guide on how the Wolverines can put up points and avoid an upset. The Mustangs moved the football well throughout the game, compiling six drives of 60 or more yards and 10 drives of at least 20 yards. But two interceptions, a fumble and two long drives ended on downs led to SMU scoring just 27 points despite getting inside Maryland’s 30-yard line 10 times. That’s a lot of missed opportunities and points left on the field.

(This story continues below.)

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