MSU hopes to put OSU debacle in rear view on Senior Day

Following a 45-point blowout loss in Columbus, No. 17 Michigan State (7-3, 5-2) will look to right the ship on Saturday as they host Maryland (4-6, 2-5) on Senior Day.

Saturday’s matchup features the ninth meeting between the two teams, with the Terrapins traveling to East Lansing for just the second time as Big Ten foes. The Spartans hold the series lead 6-2, but Maryland came away victorious last year in College Park, 28-17.

I think they’re [Maryland] a well-coached football team and they’re very good conceptually and schematically,” head coach Mark Dantonio said. “So, it will be a challenge as we move forward.”

The Spartans will recognize 15 seniors in the pregame ceremony. The class of 2017 seniors have guided MSU to a 33-16 record since 2014, including a 2014 Cotton Bowl berth and a Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth in 2015. The 33 wins are tied for seventh-most by a senior class in school history.

It’s Senior Day, always a great day for our seniors,” Dantonio said. “It’s a small senior class, but some guys that really have been involved with some great years.”

Due to a plethora of injuries, the Terrapins turn to fourth-string quarterback and Detroit, Michigan native Ryan Brand. Maryland joins Michigan as the only other program in the country to win at least one game with three different starting quarterbacks.

Defensive coordinator Andy Buh’s unit hasn’t had much to show for this season. The Terrapins are dead last in total defense (420.8 YPG) and scoring defense (36.2) in the Big Ten. Senior linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. and sophomore nickelback Antoine Brooks Jr. lead the defense in tackles, with 67 and 64, respectively.

“You see a team that plays really hard and they have good team speed from really all aspects, as far as how well their linebackers run, how well they run in man coverage, playing multiple guys in the back end,” quarterbacks coach Brad Salem said. “You see a team that sustains and plays hard through a game, even in the fourth quarter, so they’re finishing games.”

Maryland gave up 160 yards on the ground to Michigan last weekend, a unit which gives up 173.3 yards per game, 12th in the Big Ten. The Spartans mustered just 64 rushing yards last weekend to Ohio State, so success on the ground will go a long way for MSU on Saturday. The Terrapins are 4-0 this season when holding their opponents to under 100 yards on the ground.

Offensively, they’re led by their junior receiver DJ Moore, who leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (857) and touchdown catches (8). Moore also leads the Big Ten with 64 receptions, and needs just 14 more catches to break the single-season reception record at Maryland, set back in 1994. Senior wideout Taivon Jacobs has stepped up as of late, with a touchdown in four of his last five games.

“Got a wide receiver that leads the Big Ten in receiving yards and catches, D.J. Moore,” Dantonio said. “Taivon Jacobs as well is a guy that’s been very active as of late.”

Maryland presents a talented backfield, led by junior Ty Johnson, who’s eighth in the Big Ten with 77 rushing yards per game. Johnson and sophomore Lorenzo Harrison III have combined for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. Johnson does it all for the Terps, ranking third in the Big Ten with 139 all-purpose yards per game, and is second in the conference with 557 total kick return yards.

MSU will look to rebound from last week’s lopsided loss while Maryland looks to stay in the hunt for a second-straight bowl bid. Kickoff for Senior Day is set for 4 p.m., with Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman having the call on FOX.