College Park, Md. – A week ago, the Michigan State defense was a beaten unit, giving up 49 points and more than 500 yards in a deflating loss to Ohio State.
All week, as No. 12 Michigan State prepared to face Maryland, the talk was about "getting up off the mat." And that was directed squarely at a defense that has spent the better part of the last four seasons being dominant.
And while Saturday's opponent was not on par with last week's, the Michigan State defense walked away with a big of its swagger back after a 37-15 victory for the Spartans in front of a sold-out crowd of 51,802 at Byrd Stadium.
Michigan State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) held Maryland to 252 total yards and just 6 yards rushing. It also had three sacks and forced four turnovers, turning the final one into a touchdown when RJ Williamson intercepted a pass deflected by linebacker Taiwan Jones and returned it 22 yards for the score.
As impressive as the defense was, the offense was out of sync most of the game.
In the first half, the Spartans moved the ball well but had to settle for three Michael Geiger field goals. He tried a fourth in the second quarter that came up short from 47 yards. But the offense did get a spark late in the half when Keith Mumphery caught a pass, broke a tackle and raced 62 yards to the Maryland 3. After a Michigan State penalty, Jeremy Langford scored from 8 yards out.
It was the first of two scores for Langford, who added a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter. The senior running back finished with 138 yards, the 14th straight game he's rushed for 100 or more yards against a Big Ten opponent. Connor Cook was inconsistent and finished 14-for-31 for 240 yards.
The Terrapins (6-4, 3-3) were able to pad the passing stats late in the fourth quarter and cut into the Michigan State lead when C.J. Brown hit Juwann Winfree for a 31-yard touchdown pass. It was Brown's second touchdown pass, his first coming in the second quarter on a 20-yard pass to Daniel Long.
Maryland added the two-point conversion but an onside kick failed and Michigan State put the final touches on the scoring when Nick Hill broke a 33-yard run for a touchdown with 3:15 to play.