- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2022

Here are three things to think about the Terrapins in this week’s “Terps Top Three” as Maryland goes head-first into the Big Ten portion of its 2022 season Saturday at No. 4 Michigan:

HYPPOLITE’S HEALTH: Linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II will be a game-time decision, coach Mike Locksley said Thursday.

He was injured on the first drive of last week’s 34-27 win against SMU and will continue to be evaluated up until the noon kickoff at Michigan Stadium. If he’s unable to go, Baltimore native Ahmad McCullough will likely get the start on the weak side, with Fa’Najae Gotay also getting some snaps.

Gotay missed essentially all of last season after an upper-body injury in Week 1 and has worked his way back into action in all three games of 2022.

HAVE A FORKFUL: Locksley shared an anecdote earlier this week that he uses with his players about preparing them mentally against opponents that are decidedly tougher on paper, though you wouldn’t be faulted if it also made you hungry.

“I asked them about grandma’s macaroni and cheese,” Locksley started the retelling. “I said, ‘When she makes it on Christmas, is it any better than when she makes it on a normal Sunday dinner?’ And they all said, ‘No, the macaroni and cheese is slamming, it’s great, it’s unbelievable.’”

“Well,” he continued, “who we play doesn’t change. It’s the consistency of how we prepare to play, which is what makes grandma’s macaroni and cheese good on Christmas Day or a regular Sunday after church. And so, I’ve tried to get us out of this mentality of riding the wave of emotions of … we prepare differently for Michigan than we do SMU. Because that’s not the case.”

Insert your own family’s metaphor if it’s not macaroni and cheese (my grandmother’s tuna sauce for me), but Locksley’s message to his team remains the same: Don’t change your approach or intensity just for the No. 4 team in the country when that level should be high regardless of whoever is across the sideline.

COMING TO YOUR CITY?: This game gets the “Big Noon Kickoff” treatment, as Fox’s pregame show will air at 10 a.m. live from outside of Michigan Stadium. The show, which debuted in 2019, is a newer competitor to ESPN’s benchmark “College GameDay,” now in its 35th season overall and 30th of making visits to game sites across America.

One place neither show has been? College Park, Maryland.

While “Big Noon” may be more likely in the future given Fox’s relationship with the Big Ten, the Terrapins are interestingly one of eight Power 5 teams to have never hosted “GameDay,” per the NCAA’s accounting of the show’s travels. That group also includes conference foes Rutgers and Illinois.

Could that change this season? Next week’s Big Ten home opener versus Michigan State would have been a nice thought if the Terrapins were to somehow upset Michigan. But the Spartans got tripped up by No. 18 Washington last week, and there are four potential matchups of ranked teams, including No. 12 N.C. State at No. 5 Clemson, that would be enticing hosts for Week 5.

The only other opportunity with any likelihood would be when Maryland hosts No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 19. But that date comes a week before what should be another epic Buckeyes-Wolverines showdown, which will probably see “GameDay” head to Columbus. And that’s not to mention that Maryland would need to have some upsets on its record to merit consideration.

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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