No. 21 Michigan-Maryland matches teams with issues at QB
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Michigan and Maryland are the only Power Five teams in the nation to have a different quarterback start in three wins this season.
The similarity ends there.
No. 21 Michigan has overcome the loss of Wilton Speight to remain in the thick of the hunt in the Big Ten East. The Wolverines (7-2, 4-2) bring a two-game winning streak to Maryland on Saturday, looking to sustain the momentum before closing the regular season against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
In his first career start last week, Brandon Peters went 8 for 13 for 56 yards a touchdown against Minnesota. More importantly, he directed an offense that put up 33 points in a lopsided victory .
“Nothing close to an interception, nothing close to turning the ball over,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He did things to help us win the ball game.”
Mostly, Peters handed off the ball. Karan Higdon ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Evans added 191 yards rushing and two scores.
Michigan’s quarterback shuffle began when Speight cracked three vertebrae in his neck during a win at Purdue in late September. John O’Korn started the next four games, and now Peters is taking the snaps.
The Terrapins (4-5, 2-4) have won behind starters Tyrrell Pigrome, Kasim Hill and Max Bortenschlager. Problem is, victories have come far less frequently for Maryland than Michigan.
Bortenschlager made his first start on Sept. 30 against Minnesota and has since been knocked out of two games, including last week’s loss at Rutgers. His status for Saturday is uncertain; if he can’t go, Ryan Brand will become the team’s fourth different starter at quarterback and fifth to see action.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. “All you can do is try to make it work.”
Some things to know about the Michigan-Maryland matchup:
HIGDON RUNS WILD: Higdon ranks second in the Big Ten with 10 rushing touchdowns, including eight in the last four games. He has gained at least 150 yards in three of his last four games, including a pair of 200-yard performances for an offense that has scored 68 points over the last two weeks. “They’re really operating right now at a high level. They’re playing with confidence, they’re running the ball really well,” Maryland coach DJ Durkin said.
BRAND X: Brand did a fine job in relief at Rutgers, taking the Terrapins on a 16-play drive late in the game before an incomplete pass ended Maryland’s comeback bid. The former walk-on went 8 for 12 for 68 yards. The Terrapins are counting on Bortenschlager to start Saturday, but if Brand is called upon the drop off will probably not be significant.
HUDSON’S HITS: Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson had 15 tackles last week, including three sacks, and set a school record with eight tackles for a loss. He’s a big part of a unit that leads the Big Ten in sacks. “From a scheme standpoint they’re very aggressive,” Durkin said. “They’re constantly bringing guys and moving guys up front in different spots.”
RECORD BOOK: Maryland junior DJ Moore is 19 catches away from breaking the school’s single-season record of 77, set in 1994 by Geroy Simon. He has eight TD catches, four short of the single-season record held by Torrey Smith. Also, running back Ty Johnson is 43 yards short of becoming the 13th player in Maryland history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career.
FAMILIAR FACE: A year ago, the matchup between Durkin and Michigan was a big deal. Durkin was Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2015, and was facing his former team as a rookie head coach. Michigan won 59-3 to take a 5-1 lead in the series.
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