Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Bryan MacKenzie
Imagine you get invited to a party thrown by a new group of friends. It’d kind of a big deal, because these guys are pretty cool, and you really needed a place to party after your old group of friends became a bit of a tire fire.
So, you show up right on time… and another guy arrives at the exact same time. For sake of argument, we’ll call him “Rutger.” You vaguely recognize him, but you don’t recall ever talking with him before. He’s wearing a puka shell necklace. He has a 30-rack of Natural Light (which appears to be down to about a 27-rack for some reason) a flat-billed Barstool logo hat on his head. And the first thing he does when he walks in the door is to shotgun a Natty Light, presents the 26-rack to the host, punches a random guest, and chants WORLDSTAR for 5 minutes.
For the host who has everything
Poor damn Maryland. We know they aren’t the coolest guy in the room. But they bring some qualities to the table. They can tell a funny anecdote. They brought a $7 bottle of Shiraz as a hostess gift. They didn’t punch anybody. And yet, because they were one of the two new guys at the same time as Rutger, they get lumped in with them in way too many respects.
[After THE JUMP: I’m not with this guy]
Maryland’s record hasn’t been great since joining the Big Ten, but they have been struck by some bad injury luck over the years. Two years in a row, they lost multiple quarterbacks to injury, leading to quarterback starts from guys like Max Bortenschlager and Ryan Brand. They lost Will Likely, their best corner and most dangerous special teams player, to four or five torn ACLs. They lost Jesse Aniebonam for all of 2017. As a result, their records have not been great.
Pictured: Michigan vs. Maryland, circa the entire Harbaugh era (Paul Sherman)
But make no mistake: Maryland can play. You can see what happens when they play to their potential; two years in a row, they have beaten Texas to open the year. They have the #1 and #2 backs in the Big Ten in yards per carry. Matt Canada has done some interesting things in terms of scheme. And as a surprising bonus, they have the #3 defense in the Big Ten in yards per play allowed.
In the last two years, Michigan has faced Maryland in November, after the ravages of time left the Terps no more than an empty, upside-down shell. But in 2015, Michigan played Maryland in early October. And on a rainy, breezy, cool afternoon, and the game stayed competitive. It was 6-0 midway through the third quarter before Michigan pulled away a bit.
By Internet Raj
When writing about Maryland football in any capacity, the rules of Serious Sports Journalism® demand that the author make an oblique opening sentence reference to the “dark cloud surrounding the Terrapin program,” which is ironic because dark clouds will at least give you water instead of withholding it as you die of heatstroke.
In the months since the tragic and easily avoidable death of former Maryland football player Jordan McNair, multiple reports and investigations into the 19-year-old’s fatal workout reveal a dangerously toxic culture overseen—if not actively fostered—by former head coach DJ Durkin. One sampling of what it was like to play under Durkin’s regime comes from former Terrapin defensive back Elisha Daniels, who claimed that Durkin once belittled him with a slight that should only be reserved for Rutgers University:
“You’ll never be nothing; nobody likes you. Why don’t you just leave?”
First of all, it’s absolutely inexcusable that Durkin would bully an unpaid, hard-working student athlete in such a malicious manner. Second, its equally indefensible that he did not unleash such vitriol on a much more deserving target three years ago when they were on the same damn staff.
You should have bullied someone your own size, DJ.
The Terrapin program has since attempted to close the Durkin chapter and turn a new page under interim head coach Matt Canada. Canada is best known for his offensive acumen and his trademark scheme that features more frenetic motion and dizzying shifts than a drag race between Jim Irsay and LJ Scott.
Don’t get me wrong – Maryland will certainly uncork a spectacular big play here and there and will put some points on the board. But the Michigan defense, as it always does, will find its level and progressively grind the Terrapins into uhhhh… yellow, white, black and red dust.
The Terrapin aesthetic is “Fifth Grader Whose Mom Just Bought Him a 4-in-1 Color Pen Doodling in the Margins of his Five Star Notebook”
Michigan wins this one comfortably.
Michigan: Ralph Friedgen’s waist size, Maryland: 14