By Ryan Connors
This Saturday is a game that most Maryland fans have had circled on their calendar since the season started.
No. 12 Michigan State, at home. The Terps failed their first test against a ranked opponent this year, losing 52-24 at Ohio State, then ranked no. 20, now ranked no. 8.
Ranked opponents have not been too kind to Maryland in the past couple years. Last year, the Terps lost to the eventual national champions in Florida State by a score of 63-0. However, Maryland played a competitive game against ninth-ranked Clemson last year, keeping the game close for three quarters before the Tigers pulled away, winning 40-27. Other recent losses against ranked teams include a loss against Georgia Tech, and more losses against Florida State and Clemson.
Despite those previous losses, Maryland students remain optimistic about the team’s chances.
“Michigan State just lost to Ohio State. I could see it happening, sure,” said junior government and politics major Zack Kiesel. Last week, Michigan State was ranked seventh before losing at Ohio State 49-37.
But this optimism is balanced by realism among Maryland students.
“On paper we’re going to lose,” said sophomore criminal justice major Ben Foxman. Basic stats from this season back him up. Michigan State ranks higher than Maryland in passing yards, rushing yards, passing yards allowed, and rushing yards allowed.
Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs is out for the game after being suspended for starting a fight before their last game against Penn State. Diggs leads the team in receiving yards (654) and receiving touchdowns (5). Some students aren’t worried about Maryland’s chances against Michigan State, even without their star wide receiver.
“We went without him for most of last season,” said Foxman. “He’s not the team.”
The Terps played six games without Diggs last season after he broke his leg.
Others aren’t as confident. Last year, Lavern Jacobs stepped up and filled the void when Diggs went down with a broken leg, and caught a 71-yard touchdown pass against Clemson, but Jacobs is suspended for all of the 2014-15 season. Jacobs filled in for Diggs against Clemson last year and caught a 71-yard touchdown.
Home field advantage could play a big role on Saturday. Last year’s embarrassing loss to Florida State was in Tallahassee, but the competitive loss against Clemson was at home. This atmosphere promises a rowdy fanbase to support their Terps.
Edsall tried to downplay the effect that playing in primetime under the lights would have on his players in his press conference on Tuesday.
“Our kids know how to deal with it,” he said. “You just try not to make a big deal out of it.”