Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Maryland
Penn State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) got the win it so desperately needed last weekend in overtime against Minnesota, but the Nittany Lions will have another big test on their hands in this Saturday’s noon Homecoming game with Maryland (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten). Our sports staff is somewhat confident in a victory, but a pair of our writers think the Terrapins come out on top.
Joe Pickard: Penn State 31, Maryland 24 (season record 3-0)
This is a tough game to predict. Maryland is undefeated thanks to huge success in the running game, while Penn State has given up far too many rushing yards to opponents so far. The Terrapins have played a rather weak schedule so far, and Penn State will be their toughest opponent. Even Vegas is unsure about this game, as the Nittany Lions opened as three-point favorites, but the line has since moved all the way to Penn State +2. I’m hoping James Franklin has realized that all four quarters of football count, not just the last two, so they can finally stop having to put together second half comebacks like last week. With Homecoming and what should be a pretty full Beaver Stadium, I’m taking the Nittany Lions to give the Terps their first loss of the season.
Anthony Colucci: Maryland 38, Penn State 30 (season record 2-1)
Both teams come into this game with some momentum. While the Nittany Lions are more battle tested thus far than their next opponents, the Terrapin offense has been quite impressive this year, averaging over 43 points per game. As good as Joe Moorhead’s unit has been through five games, Penn State’s thin defense remains a weakness. The Nittany Lions will play well on offense but I expect Maryland’s dominant running game to wear down the Penn State defense and spoil Homecoming Weekend.
Robbie Rockwell: Penn State 34, Maryland 28 (season record 3-0)
I think Penn State finally figures it out this week and gets a much-needed win over an undefeated Maryland team. Like Minnesota, the Terps haven’t really played anyone yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive. Their run game is very powerful, and that’s been a weakness for Penn State’s defense. Having said that, I think they have learned from Minnesota, and hopefully getting senior safety Malik Golden back will help even more. The offense excelled last week through the air and that will most likely be the game plan again this week. They’ll hope to start a little stronger and carry that momentum to a victory.
Chris Weigl: Penn State 33, Maryland 31 (season record 2-0)
Yes, I know the Terrapins are 4-0 coming into this weekend’s contest, but look who they’ve played. They’ve beaten Howard, FIU, Purdue and it took them 2OTs to beat UCF. Coming into Happy Valley and playing in front of 100,000 is a different obstacle that this team has yet to face. Maryland’s offense has been firing on all cylinders this year, but again, remember it hasn’t played anyone great. Penn State’s defense should be able to put up a better fight than Maryland’s previous opponents even though it’s been ravaged with injuries. Also, after completing a comeback against Minnesota in OT last Saturday, I believe the Nittany Lions will ride that high into this weekend. I just don’t see Maryland winning two straight games in Beaver Stadium.
Steve Connelly: Maryland 34, Penn State 24 (season record 3-2)
Coming off last week’s dramatic win, Penn State will have some momentum. Maryland is similar in some ways to Minnesota last week – undefeated, but without a real signature win. Penn State’s injury-depleted defense did all it could to scrum up the overtime victory, but it faces a much tougher challenge in Maryland’s no-huddle offense that’s currently second in the Big Ten in rushing. Like last year, this one could be a high scoring game, but I don’t think Penn State’s offense has enough to keep up with the fast-paced, high-scoring Terrapins on the other side of the ball.
David Abruzzese: Penn State 24, Maryland 17 (season record 4-1)
I was a doubter heading into last game. I was a doubter during halftime. But Penn State’s second half performance against Minnesota inspired me. We know this offense is potent. We know the defense has holes. But hell, this team believed. In turn, these battered Lions made me a believer again. I think Penn State carries its momentum into a highly-anticipated Homecoming matchup against the Terps, but it won’t come easily.
Maryland loves to run the ball and does so efficiently. Stopping quarterback Perry Hills is priority number one. If the Lions can simply hang on, I think Joe Moorhead and this talented offense, that’ll welcome back Saeed Blacknall with open arms, can finish the job.
I’m a believer. Now let’s make it happen.
Ethan Kasales: Penn State 40, Maryland 37 2OT (season record 4-1)
Call me crazy, but I think the Nittany Lions finally get the punch they’ve been looking for on the ground. It’s been tough to watch Saquon Barkley get bottled up at the line of scrimmage so often the past few weeks, and Matt Limegrover’s boys should turn things around in that department against the Terrapins. I think we’ll have a shootout on our hands this Saturday, amplified from what we saw last year at M&T Bank Stadium. I see Penn State heading to overtime for the second week in a row with things tied up at 31-31, but it’ll take two extra sessions to decide this one. How bout Saeed Blacknall in the corner of the end zone for the game-winning score.