ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — After one of the easiest non-conference schedules in school history, No. 4 Michigan will open the Big Ten season against undefeated Maryland on Saturday in what will be a tougher test.
The Wolverines opened the year by beating Colorado State, Hawaii and Connecticut by an average of 49.7 points.
“Our guys are ready to attack the next challenge,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “They know it’s going to be a step up in competition when you start playing in the Big Ten, but our momentum right now is really good.”
Maryland has done enough to beat Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU in non-conference games, but there are already some warning signs for Mike Locksley’s squad. The Terrapins have allowed 661 passing yards and six touchdowns in their last two games, and they committed 15 penalties for 141 yards in a 34-27 win over the Mustangs last weekend.
“I showed the video and let them see what people thought about our program,” Loxley said. “As a parent, you send your child to school and he has the foundation of how you raised him. Sometimes they do not act according to their character.
“I think people who have kids understand what it’s like when they get on the field and maybe play outside of what you’ve taught them,” he said.
JJ McCarthy took over as Michigan’s starting quarterback from Cade McNamara, but he didn’t have much to do. He threw just 34 passes in three games — completing 30 — because Michigan’s rushing game was so dominant.
Harbaugh pulled his starters, his backups and his third-stringers in explosive wins — 14 players had already carried the ball — but the Wolverines rushed for 694 yards and 15 touchdowns in three games. Blake Corum scored seven points on 34 carries and averaged 6.9 yards per rush.
IT WAS NOT RECENT
Maryland hasn’t beaten Michigan since the Terps won the Big House in 2014. The Wolverines were in turmoil in their final season under Brady Hoke before Harbaugh was hired. Loxley was then an assistant at Maryland.
“I don’t remember much about that game,” Locksley said. “I know any time you can go to a place like Michigan and win, you have to give credit to the team we had in 2014. But there is no one left in this locker room from this team.”
Michigan is 50-4 in Big Ten openers since 1968 and 6-1 under Harbaugh. Three of the four losses have come at Wisconsin, including Harbaugh’s only loss – a 35-14 loss in 2019 – and the other coming at home against Minnesota in the Hawk’s final season in 2014.
The Wolverines lost to just one opponent in their conference opener: Michigan State. The Spartans are 9-4-2 in their 15 meetings, although Michigan has only started conference play against them once since 1969, a 29-17 win in 1998.
Maryland allowed SMU 520 yards of offense — plus 141 yards in penalties — and was only within 27-20 early in the fourth quarter because Colin Rodgers missed a 49-yard field goal.
However, the Terrapins scored a pair of touchdowns, intercepted a Tanner Mordecai pass and had a fourth-down stop at their own 9 to clinch the victory.