COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Michigan State’s season didn’t end last week with a loss to Ohio State.
There’s more than enough time for the 12th-ranked Spartans to accomplish goals that don’t necessarily involve winning the national championship.
Last week’s 49-37 defeat essentially dropped the Spartans (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) out of the college playoff picture. Now it’s up to coach Mark Dantonio to make sure one loss doesn’t lead to another Saturday night against Maryland (6-3, 3-2).
"I still think we have an opportunity to be the best team in the Big Ten," Dantonio insisted. "It may not show in the record, but I still believe we have that possibility. I think we’ll go to Maryland and play. The competitive nature of everybody is of that mindset. So we’ll see what happens."
It was all going so well until Ohio State came to East Lansing and ruined it all.
"Things are going to change. They’ve changed for a lot of people this past week," Dantonio said. "There are a lot of people sitting around wondering, `OK, what do we do next?’"
The Spartans face a Maryland team coming off a bye after defeating Penn State on the road Nov. 1. But the Terrapins are without their best playmaker, wide receiver and kick returner Stefon Diggs, who has been suspended for bumping a referee during a pregame skirmish with the Nittany Lions.
Maryland has been surprisingly competitive in its first Big Ten season — except against the better teams in the conference. The Terrapins lost at home to Ohio State 52-14 and were thumped 52-7 at Wisconsin.
As much as he’d like to see it, Maryland coach Randy Edsall isn’t counting on a letdown by the Spartans.
"We know Michigan State is going to be ready to play," he said.
Some things to know about the Michigan State-Maryland matchup:
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Clark Brown, the father of Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, was a starting QB for Michigan State in the 1980s. Now he gets the chance to see his son face his alma mater.
"He’s just worried about tickets, making sure we can get everyone sitting together," C.J. Brown said. "There hasn’t been too much talk, other than, `Go out there and take care of business, believe in yourself, believe in your team, go out there and try to win.’"
RUNNING START: Michigan State senior Jeremy Langford has rushed for at least 100 yards in 12 straight Big Ten regular-season games. It’s a good bet the streak will continue against a Maryland team that has yielded an average of 193.4 yards rushing. Langford is merely one facet of a high-powered offense that needs 34 points to set the school single-season record of 435.
FAMILIAR FOE: This is the first time since 1950 that Michigan State faces Maryland, but Dantonio and Edsall are no strangers to each other. Dantonio was coach at Cincinnati and Edsall was at Connecticut when the teams competed in the Big East.
EASTBOUND: The only other time Michigan State played at Maryland, the Spartans escaped with an 8-0 victory in 1944. So this will game will have a first-time feel for the visitors.
"There’s a little bit of, OK, what is the environment like? I’m sure it will be very exciting," Dantonio said. "I would expect there would be a lot of Spartan fans there from the East Coast."
PRIME TIME: This is the first time this season the Terps are playing under the lights, which adds to the excitement of facing the nation’s 12th-ranked team at home.
"Sometimes it seems like there’s a little more electricity in the air; people are a little more awake," Edsall said. "From what I understand, we’re close to a sellout, so that’ll be neat. But what we have to focus on is just playing the best to our ability and play hard every play. If you do that, you give yourself an opportunity."