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Michigan vs. Maryland football preview, prediction

Preview, prediction for Michigan vs. Maryland in the Big Ten opener on the Week 4 college football schedule
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Michigan opens up its Big Ten schedule as it welcomes Maryland to the Big House in college football's Week 4 action on Saturday.

Both clubs come in perfect through three games: the Wolverines, coming off a soft non-conference slate, and Maryland, which held off SMU in a statement, 7-point victory a season ago.

Here's what you need to know about the matchup.

Michigan vs. Maryland football preview, prediction

Michigan Wolverines college football team schedule, rankings

Week 4 college football schedule: Michigan vs. Maryland

How to watch

When: Sat., Sept. 24

Time: 12 p.m. Eastern

TV: Fox network

Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)

Odds, point spread, betting lines

Line: Michigan -17

O/U: 65

Moneyline: MD +500 MICH -700

FPI pick: Michigan 84.7%

What you need to know

1. Maryland can move. This should be the toughest air attack that Michigan faces in the first half of the season. Taulia Tagovailoa picked up where he left off a year ago, completing 77% of his throws for almost 900 yards and 6 TDs with 2 picks so far. He's working with 3 100-yard receivers averaging around 15 ypc, and whose 5 TDs account for almost 18% of their total catches. Maryland gets help from a backfield led by Roman Hemby, who has nearly 300 yards rushing while smoking defenses for 9.2 ypc. These skill targets can move very well in space. 

2. But so can Michigan. The Wolverines are the No. 1 scoring offense in college football with 55.3 ppg and the No. 3 scoring defense (5.7 ppg). Take the opponents into consideration, but J.J. McCarthy has passed every test. Not just a gifted runner, the quarterback is good for 88% of his passes. Blake Corum runs for TDs on 21% of his carries and UM has 4 receivers who average over 20 yards per catch.

3. Maryland on defense early. Through 3 games, the Terps definitely have a kind of identity on defense of looking out of sorts early on before mounting a comeback after halftime. The unit ranked just 13th in the Big Ten a year ago and is vulnerable through the air, allowing 520 yards to SMU and allowed 6 TDs in the last 2 games, in addition to a slew of penalties. Michigan has the power to open lanes against this front, and the speed at running back to move the chains on third down and keep the Terps' skill threats on the sideline.

Michigan vs. Maryland: Fast Facts

Maryland Terrapins college football team schedule, rankings

+ Maryland has not defeated a ranked team on the road sine 2017

+ Michigan's Blake Corum leads nation with 7 rush TDs

+ Roman Hemby is 3rd nationally with 9.19 yards per rush

+ Michigan is 1st in pass efficiency defense and 3rd in total/pass defense

+ Tagovailoa is 3rd nationally with 77.3% completion mark

+ Michigan has won 50 of its last 54 conference openers

+ Terps DB Jakorian Bennett led Power 5 players with 16 pass breakups in 2021

+ Michigan is 50-8 when scoring first under Harbaugh and 14-16 when not

+ Maryland is Big Ten's only team to return all 5 O-line starters

+ Michigan is 58-4 under Harbaugh leading after 3 quarters and 5-20 when trailing after 3

+ Tagovailoa has thrown a TD in 18 of 20 games at Maryland

+ Michigan is 62-10 when scoring 20-plus under Harbaugh and 2-14 when scoring fewer

+ Maryland and Michigan are both at 100% scoring in the red zone

+ Maryland is at minus-0.33 turnover margin, 80th nationally

+ Michigan is plus-0.7 turnover margin, 39th nationally

+ Maryland receivers have a combined 6,117 yards and 85 TDs in their career

What happens?

An important early test for the Michigan secondary as it lines up against by far the best passing offense it has seen so far this season.

Tagovailoa will connect with his receivers downfield on some early gainers, move the chains, and create the kind of space that Michigan hasn't allowed yet. But likewise, the Terps haven't seen the likes of UM's skill pieces, either.

Maryland's defense is just alright, and it may not have time to get into position as McCarthy picks up the pace and builds momentum early behind a line that will give him room to breathe.

Not to mention the quality of Michigan's ground attack going against the Big Ten's 4th-worst run stop. Tagovailoa has the arm to keep Maryland in the game early, but Michigan has the power and speed at the line to keep the Terps on the sideline down the stretch.

College Football HQ Prediction: Michigan 38, Maryland 21

College football rankings

According to AP top 25 poll

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Oklahoma
  7. USC
  8. Kentucky
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Arkansas
  11. Tennessee
  12. NC State
  13. Utah
  14. Penn State
  15. Oregon
  16. Ole Miss
  17. Baylor
  18. Washington
  19. BYU
  20. Florida
  21. Wake Forest
  22. Texas
  23. Texas A&M
  24. Pittsburgh 
  25. Miami

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