Michigan No.8 tries to avoid disappointment in Maryland

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his players take to the field for an NCAA college football game against Penn State in State College, Pa. On Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Michigan defeated Penn State 21-17. (AP Photo / Barry Reeger)

PA

Even Maryland coach Michael Locksley seems to understand that Michigan’s No.8 has bigger games on the horizon than this weekend’s game with his Terrapins.

Maybe the Terps can use this to their advantage when they welcome the Wolverines.

“They’ve done a great job of not fighting and putting themselves in a position where they’re competing for a Big Ten title, which I think will depend on how they play behind our game,” Locksley said. “I think they play Ohio State the week after us. I don’t want to put that in their head, but I think they have a big game coming up. “

Indeed, the Wolverines host the Buckeyes the weekend after this one, but if Michigan doesn’t win at Maryland on Saturday, their Big Ten championship hopes could be wiped out. It’s the type of game the Wolverines can hardly afford to ignore, and it sits between a big win over Penn State last weekend and the showdown with Ohio State.

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara admitted the players were thinking of the Ohio State game, adding that the challenge was to focus on Maryland this week.

“We can’t play in any championship without beating Maryland first,” McNamara said. “We are obviously aware that we have a big game ahead of us, but we need to be more focused on what lies ahead at the moment.”

Michigan (9-1, 6-1, No.6 CFP) haven’t won the Big Ten since 2004, the school’s longest conference championship drought.

Maryland (5-5, 2-5) has two more chances of securing a sixth victory and securing bowl eligibility.

QB PLAY

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh chose McNamara to start the season ahead of popular freshman JJ McCarthy, but had worked McCarthy in games until he was sidelined in the win at Penn State.

“He didn’t do anything other than be exceptional as a starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said when asked if McNamara was the team’s long-term quarterback.

Later, at Harbaugh’s weekly press conference, he added some thoughts on what is still a topic of discussion in Michigan.

“Everyone’s praising the job, nobody owns the job, no job on the field, not even the head coach,” said Harbaugh. “You praise, at best.”

AGAINST THE BEST

Maryland is at .500 because the Terrapins beat the weaker teams on their schedule. Against better opponents, it hasn’t been so pretty.

The Terps lost to Iowa 51-14, Ohio State 66-17 and Michigan State 40-21. They gave Penn State a tough game before falling 31-14. Of course, the Nittany Lions are no longer in the Top 25 after losing at home to Michigan.

RESPECTED

Harbaugh watched Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and marveled at the dynamic with which he throws the ball.

“He’s just taking care of it,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been fun watching up to this point and now we have to defend it.”

MAKE A MOMENT

Maryland and Michigan had their game canceled last season due to a COVID-19 outbreak that affected the Wolverines. The Michigan-Ohio State game was also called off.

Michigan leads the series 8-1, and Maryland’s only victory came in 2014, the season before Harbaugh took over.

ONE MORE

Maryland hasn’t been in a bowl since 2016, but a four-game winning streak to start this season has put the Terps in good shape to end that drought.

“I haven’t been to a bowl game since I got here, and I would really love to do it because it would extend my career and give me one more game,” said senior defensive back Jordan Mosley. “Sometimes it’s about the trip, not the outcome, but in this case, I really want to go to a bowl.”

If Maryland fails to claim sixth place this week, the Terrapins will look to do so in their regular season final at Rutgers.

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Follow Noah Trister on https://twitter.com/noahtrister



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