Maryland faced another top-notch Big Ten opponent with a chance to make a statement, and again the Terrapins fell short.
Too many turnovers, a slew of missed tackles and absolutely no ground game led to a 37-15 loss to No. 12 Michigan State on Saturday night.
Maryland (6-4, 3-3) trailed the Spartans by two points as the first half neared its end, before Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and Keith Mumphery combined for a 62-yard play that set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Langford.
Mumphery escaped from Anthony Nixon, whose botched tackle allowed the receiver to run free down the left sideline.
“We had a 9-7 ballgame and we’re playing really solid defensively,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “And then we give up the big play.”
One thing led to another, and by the final whistle the Terrapins were on the short end of another rout.
Although Maryland has played decently at times during its initial foray in the Big Ten, it has lost to Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin by a combined 141-46 score.
Three interceptions, a fumbled punt and 6 yards rushing attributed heavily to this defeat.
“We didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had,” Edsall said. “Going into the game, the one thing we talked about is we knew we couldn’t turn the ball over. We turned it over four times.
“You can’t do that against a top-20, top-15 team and expect to win.”
Terps quarterback C.J. Brown completed 20 of 43 passes for 240 yards. The Terrapins were in the game until Michigan State’s RJ Williamson returned an interception 22 yards into the end zone for a 23-7 lead with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
“We had a guy in the flat we should have thrown the ball to,” Edsall said. “That’s the thing that’s frustrating about it.”
Brown said, “I threw it to the wrong guy.”
The Terrapins played without leading receiver Stefon Diggs, who was suspended for one game by the Big Ten for his part in a pregame scuffle at Penn State on Nov. 1.
Langford ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns for the Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten, No. 12 CFP), whose hopes for a national championship ended one week earlier in a 49-37 defeat against Ohio State.
“Great job by our football team rebounding,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “I felt like the disappointment from last week’s game could hang over us a little bit even though we practiced well and all those type of things.”
Langford extended his streak of consecutive 100-yard games against Big Ten opponents to 14, although 68 of those yards came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
His second touchdown made it 30-7 with 7:06 left, and a TD run by Nick Hill with 3:15 to go enabled Michigan State to set a school record for points in a season (438).
Senior quarterback Connor Cook went 14 for 31 for 240 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
Michigan State set a school record with its ninth consecutive Big Ten road win and remained in contention for the East Division title.
“The mood is good,” Dantonio said. “This was a business-as-usual type game.”
Playing at Maryland for the first time since 1944, the Spartans drew a sellout crowd of 51,802 — a good portion of them dressed in Michigan State green and white.
Early on, it became apparent Brown and the Terrapins would have trouble moving the ball.
After Michigan State’s opening possession ended in a punt, Kurtis Drummond dropped a potential interception on Maryland’s first offensive play. He made amends on third down, picking off an overthrown pass by Brown to set up a field goal by Michael Geiger.
On the Spartans’ next possession, Cook connected with Macgarrett Kings on a 50-yard pass play on third-and-8 from the MSU 13. That led to another field goal.
Although the score didn’t accurately illustrate Michigan State’s dominance in the first quarter, the statistics did: 143-11 in yardage, 6-0 in first downs and 26-9 in plays.
It didn’t get much better.
“Offense, myself, really hurt us,” Brown said. “We got to pick it up.”
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