Penn State Preview: Maryland

Jayson Oweh and the Nittany Lions look for their first (Photo by Steve Manuel)

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season.

Game details: vs. Maryland, 3:30 p.m. kickoff, broadcast on BTN.

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State enjoys a 23-1 advantage over Maryland in the all-time series.

Weather forecast (via Accuweather): High of 71 degrees and sunny.

All-time series: Penn State leads 40-2-1.

Last meeting (2019): The Nittany Lions bulldozed the Terrapins 59-0 in College Park, where the school closed classes leading up to the Friday night game.

Throwback classic (2015): Penn State outlasted Maryland 31-30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. We looked back at the victory this week on the blog.

The lead: It’s fairly easy to imagine Penn State winning its six remaining games and qualifying for another attractive bowl. That journey begins Saturday against the Terrapins, who the Nittany Lions have outscored 163-6 over the last three years. Maryland upset Minnesota last week in College Park, though struggled mightily in losing 43-3 to Northwestern in the season opener.

Penn State wins if: the Nittany Lions avoid mistakes that flip the field. It’s difficult to see Maryland keeping pace Saturday, so as long as Penn State forces the Terps to work for all their points, there’s a good chance this one will be locked up going into the fourth quarter.

Maryland wins if: the Terps’ quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa, can find gaps in the Penn State secondary. Both Indiana and Ohio State scored 30-plus points against the Nittany Lions, though those are two ranked teams with explosive offenses. That doesn’t describe Maryland, though if the Terps can find way to gain chunk plays down the field, that gives them a shot.

Count on: Penn State running the ball plenty. Maryland is last in the Big Ten and is one of the worst teams nationally in rush defense, allowing nearly 300 yards per game. The Nittany Lions’ backfield is without some of its stars, though there’s still plenty of talent thanks to the impressive job that the staff has done in recruiting.

Keep an eye on: Jahan Dotson. The junior wide receiver has elevated his play early on, establishing himself as Sean Clifford’s top target for wideouts (both Dotson with 929 and standout tight end Pat Freiermuth with 981 are within reach of 1,000 career receiving yards). Through the season’s first two games, Dotson has tallied 238 receiving yards, the best two-game start for a Penn State receiver in six years. 

Trivia tidbit: Clifford is tied for the Big Ten lead with six passing touchdowns.

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