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After struggling last week, Terps set to face Penn State's tough defense

After being limited to 175 yards of total offense during a 52-7 loss to Wisconsin last week, the Terps are preparing to face one of the top-ranked defenses in the country when they travel to Penn State on Saturday.

Maryland coach Randy Edsall spent Saturday night in front of a television, watching as Penn State's defense helped the Nittany Lions erase a 17-point halftime deficit to nearly beat No. 13 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes entered Saturday having scored at least 50 points and having put up at least 533 yards of total offense during each of their previous four games, including during their 52-24 win over the Terps on Oct. 4.

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Against Penn State, Ohio State didn't score in the second half and finished with just 293 yards of total offense, even after two overtime periods.

The Nittany Lions also intercepted Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett twice during the second half. One of the interceptions was returned for Penn State's first touchdown. The second set up the Nittany Lions' second score early in the fourth quarter.

"I think you saw a defense that played very, very hard, and they were opportunistic," Edsall said. "They got a pick-six that changed the momentum, and I think 106,000 people [at Penn State's Beaver Stadium] really helped them out.

"Then they got another pick that led to another touchdown, so that's 14 points off of turnovers. It looked to me that there was a defense out there that was executing at a very high level and a defense that was playing with tremendous emotion and feeding off of their crowd."

That is the next challenge for Maryland's offense.

After being limited to 175 yards of total offense during a 52-7 loss to Wisconsin last week, the Terps are preparing to face one of the top-ranked defenses in the country.

Penn State is ranked seventh nationally in total defense, third in rushing defense and 28th in pass defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed 18 points or less in four of their last six games and held Ohio State to 17 points through four quarters.

"It was really impressive," Terps running back Brandon Ross said of Penn State's defensive showing against Ohio State. "One thing I really noticed about them was everybody just getting to the ball.

"When the running back didn't go down, they made sure there were second guys coming in to hit him. They got good hits on the quarterback, and it seemed like they just played good team defense."

One of the primary questions for Maryland is whether the Terps' offensive line can hold up better than it did against Wisconsin while facing the same type of aggressive, pressure-oriented defense and an even better run defense.

The Badgers had two sacks and numerous other pressures and held Maryland to 17 rushing yards on 23 carries before a late-scoring drive.

"Wisconsin game was a tough one," Terps left tackle Michael Dunn said. "We kind of just thought that was out of the ordinary for us. It wasn't our best game obviously, and we're just moving on from it because we know that we can be better and we know that we are better than what we showed in the Wisconsin game."

This will be an opportunity to prove it.

While Penn State has just 19 sacks in seven games, the Nittany Lions, led by linebacker Mike Hull, are allowing only 2.44 yards per carry, which is tied for second-fewest in the country.

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Hull, who Edsall said, "makes them go on defense," leads the Big Ten in tackles per game (11.9) and has seven tackles for a loss and two sacks.

Penn State also has a combined 14.5 tackles for a loss and eight total sacks from defensive end Deion Barnes and defensive tackle Anthony Zettel.

"Just handling the pressure" will be key against Penn State, Terps quarterback C.J. Brown said. "Not hurting ourselves. I know it sounds old, but it's kind of been our Achilles' heel. There are not a lot of teams that have hurt us on offense, but it's us doing the wrong thing, whether it's penalties, turnovers or just not executing.

"We've just got to be on the same page receivers-wise and up front with our linemen in terms of protection and seeing where the pressure is coming from and things of that nature. I think that's the biggest thing that we're [looking to do] going into this week."

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