No. 22 Michigan opens Big Ten season at Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) One of the most memorable moments of Maryland’s inaugural Big Ten football season came against Michigan.
The Terrapins went to the Big House last November and came away with a 23-16 victory. For Maryland, it didn’t matter that its first win against the Wolverines came against a team sputtering to a 5-7 finish in its final season under coach Brady Hoke.
In the rematch Saturday, No. 22 Michigan (3-1) arrives at Maryland (2-2) with a three-game winning streak and a whole lot of swagger. With coach Jim Harbaugh leading the way, the Wolverines open the Big Ten schedule as an overwhelming favorite against a team that lost to Bowling Green by 21 points and is coming off a 45-6 bashing at West Virginia.
”You keep practicing to fight your way out of it,” Terps coach Randy Edsall said.
Maryland can’t win if quarterback Caleb Rowe can’t protect the ball. After ascending to the starting role in Week 3, Rowe threw three interceptions and fumbled three times in a win over South Florida. Last week, he was picked off four times before being pulled.
Rowe faces a ball-hawking Michigan secondary that can’t wait to pounce.
”We have a saying: `When that ball in the air, it’s our ball,”’ strong safety Jabrill Peppers said. ”We’ll do everything in our power to make sure you don’t catch it. If we don’t catch it, nobody’s going to catch it.”
Some things to know about the Michigan-Maryland game:
HURRICANE ALERT: The game was originally set to start at 8 p.m. but was moved to noon because of the bad weather that Hurricane Joaquin is expected to bring. Both teams are ready to make adjustments if it’s wet and windy at Byrd Stadium.
”We’re going to prepare for the things we’re going to see defensively from Michigan and then worry about the weather when it becomes a little bit more of a factor for us,” Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said.
Jake Rudock has been very effective through the air for Michigan, but Harbaugh wouldn’t mind at all if the conditions call for the Wolverines to run.
”All of our running backs would like to carry the ball more, and they’re stating their case every time they get the ball,” Harbaugh said.
OPENING ACT: Michigan is 82-25-2 in Big Ten openers and has won 44 of the last 47.
This will be the first time the Wolverines open against Maryland. Conference newcomers Nebraska and Rutgers are the only other schools that Michigan has not faced in a Big Ten opener.
Maryland won its inaugural Big Ten opener at Indiana last season.
BOUNCE-BACK ABILITY: The Terrapins have won seven straight regular-season games following a defeat.
It’s already happened this season: Maryland beat South Florida after its loss to Bowling Green.
The Terps bounced back from losses four times last year. Their win at Michigan followed a home loss to Michigan State.
What’s the secret?
”Staying positive and making sure we do our job,” kicker Brad Craddock said. ”Guys need to look at themselves and know what they have to do. We need to know our assignments and execute.”
HARBAUGH FACTOR: It sure didn’t take Harbaugh long to turn his alma mater into a winner.
He enjoyed success at Stanford and with the San Francisco 49ers before working his magic at Michigan.
”He’s a good coach, there is no doubt about it. His track record proves that wherever he has been,” Edsall said. ”Michigan is playing at a very high level right now.”
Are two Harbaughs better than one? Jim’s brother, John, is expected to walk the Michigan sideline Saturday. John coaches the Baltimore Ravens, who beat Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
WARY OF LIKELY: If Maryland can force Michigan to punt, Will Likely could be a factor in the Terrapins’ bid to pull off an upset.
Likely has returned 12 punts for a total of 337 yards, an average of 28.1 yards that ranks second in the nation. He’s the only player in the country to return two punts for scores.
”This return game that Maryland has is one of the best I’ve ever seen in college football, and so is their returner,” Jim Harbaugh said. ”It’s no secret. I’m just alerting everybody that we know. We know that they’re good, so, great challenge for our coverage units this week. High alert.”