The No. 17 Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) will be celebrating Senior Day in honor of the 12 seniors on the roster. It will be their final home game and provide another opportunity to reach coach Mark Dantonio’s new goal for the season. They will take on a Maryland (4-6, 2-5) team that must win to avoid being knocked out of bowl eligibility.
Michigan State hopes to avenge a 28-17 loss on the road to Maryland in 2016, its first defeat to the Terrapins since 1950. Spartans running back LJ Scott rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown in the game last season.
Michigan State-Maryland football TV channel, time, live stream
Michigan State and Maryland play at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 18. The game is on FOX.
Kickoff time: 4 p.m. ET
Date: Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
TV channel: FOX
Michigan State-Maryland football picks, odds
Michigan State is a 16-point favorite on MyBookie. The over-under is 43 points.
Michigan State-Maryland preview: 3 keys
1. Stack the box.
Maryland has had some of the worst possible luck at quarterback. Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome both suffered ACL tears, so the Terps had to look to Max Bortenschlager. Then he got injured two weeks ago and is questionable to play on Saturday.
Enter Ryan Brand. The walk-on started against Michigan and completed 16 of 35 passes for a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Bravo to Brand for stepping in, but it’s clear quarterback is not Maryland’s strong point. The Terps rank 12th in the Big Ten with 164 yards through the air per game.
The Spartans need to focus more on Maryland’s dynamic running backs, Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison III. They have combined for 1,282 yards on the season. Johnson carried 9 times for 115 yards against Michigan State a year ago. If the Spartans’ front seven can get the job done and force Maryland to go to the air, they should be in good shape.
2. Run the ball.
This is not the Michigan State team we’ve seen in years past that opens up its passing game with the legs of an elite running back. Well, LJ Scott is an NFL talent, but he has only one game of more than 100 yards rushing (compared to five with fewer than 50), so running the ball has been a nagging concern for the Spartans.
What better time to get it going? Maryland ranks 12th in the conference in run defense, allowing 173.3 yards on the ground per game. The Spartans won’t even play the two teams below the Terps (Illinois and Nebraska), so this looks like their best opportunity to get the running game going.
Maybe Scott will look as spry as he did against Minnesota, or Gerald Holmes will go out with a bang on Senior Day. But too often this season, the majority of Michigan State’s rushing yards have come from the scrambling of quarterback Brian Lewerke.
3. Don’t turn it over.
Forget the 48-3 loss at Ohio State a week ago. Michigan State should win this game. Maryland has been decimated by injuries and has to be drained coming down the stretch. If the Spartans are to lose, it will most likely be due to them beating themselves.
Fumbles have come and gone throughout the season. Scott has proven himself susceptible to getting stripped, and Lewerke has lost the ball several times while trying to make a play. One of the worst things Michigan State can do is give Maryland the ball in dangerous field position. Then the Terps’ confidence will grow.
A lot of this comes down to offensive line play as well. Lewerke had very little time in the pocket before Ohio State converged last week, leading to many mistakes on his part. If he stays well-protected, he’ll make better decisions. It’s pretty simple.