It's a Good Day for Michigan If...Maryland

What needs to happen for the good guys to beat up on the Terps on Saturday.

Respect Mother Nature

It could be windy, it could be rainy, and/or it might even storm. There's also a chance this all holds off until after Michigan's early kickoff with the Terps is finished. So with the weather forecast up in the air, the Michigan offense needs to be flexible. Remember last year's Sparty game, when Michigan wasn't aggressive on offense until after halftime, and then the rains came and we're chucking and ducking in a monsoon? Don't let that happen again. Keep up on the weather forecast and adjust the game plan on the fly accordingly, if need be. Maryland by itself probably can't beat Michigan, but Maryland aided by mighty Mother Nature can.

Efficiency Reigns

Maryland is averaging a solid 33.8 points per game on offense, yet is only 101st in total offense and 61st in offensive efficiency. In other words, they live and die by the big play on both sides of the ball. Furthermore, the Terps are only permitting their opponents to convert 29% of their third downs, which ranks even stingier than Michigan's salty 33%. On the other hand, the Wolverines are 20th in the nation in offensive efficiency. So, again, Maryland probably can't beat Michigan. But if the Wolverines persist in playing against themselves as well as the opponent, like it did with penalties and mental errors last week at Northwestern, then the Terps are explosive enough to pull the upset. Make Maryland execute for 60 minutes and it's gonna be a happy homecoming. But let the Terps get away with 4-6 big plays that produce points they otherwise couldn't earn with their inefficiency, and it will be a nerve-wracking one.

It comes down to the quarterbacks

Both teams are among the nation's leaders in rush defense, so whoever's quarterback is able to make plays in the passing game will go a long way towards deciding this. Kasim Hill is only completing 55% of his passes, but part of that can be attributed to the fact he's already faced three opponents ranked in the top 20 nationally in pass efficiency defense. Or, maybe those teams are good at pass defense because Hill isn't an efficient passer, so they boosted their stats at his expense? A month into the season statistics like these are more often an and/also than an either/or. Meanwhile, Shea Patterson has become Michigan's unquestioned leader on offense, and he's just as likely to move the chains with his legs than his arm. He's also ranked 64 spots higher in the passer rating category than Hill. It's been a while since we've been able to say this in a Big Ten game against an opponent with a pulse, but Michigan would be just fine having it come down to the quarterbacks.

Extra-Special Teams

Maryland's biggest weakness, according to ESPN FPI, might be its special teams, which rank just 71st in the country. At the same time the Wolverines are among the nation's leaders at 17th. Michigan's kicking game has proven to be a weapon, while the Terps' kicking game hasn't been proven at all. This also plays into Maryland's overall inefficiency, which losing the field position battle doesn't help.

Prediction: Michigan 34, Maryland 17