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What we learned from Maryland's 17-7 loss at Michigan State

Some Maryland fans will look at the 2017 season much like they did the 2012 season, when the Terps played four quarterbacks after losing C.J. Brown with a torn ACL in the preseason. They lost six straight games after a 4-2 start.

There are certainly similarities. Maryland will go into its regular-season finale against Penn State in College Park having played five quarterbacks and having lost six of its last seven games, including Saturday’s 17-7 defeat at No. 22 Michigan State.

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Much of Maryland’s deficiencies have been obvious since the Terps watched their two top quarterbacks, sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome and freshman Kasim Hill, suffer torn ACLs in the first three weeks. Top pass rusher Jessie Aniebonam was also lost with a broken ankle in the opener. Here are 5 things we learned from the game in East Lansing:

Someday, the Terps are going to be able to beat one of the Big Ten East’s elite. Just not on Saturday.

1. DJ Moore overcomes the elements and a shaky quarterback situation to continue his claim as the Big Ten’s top receiver.

Moore got off to a very quiet start against the Spartans because of the bad weather and a pair of quarterbacks, sophomores Max Bortenschlager and Ryan Brand, who couldn’t get him the ball. There weren’t many options for positive yards until there were a little over five minutes left in the first half.

Though he wasn’t the same sure-handed receiver in the snowy and windy conditions as he’s been for most of the season, Moore finished with eight catches for 75 yards, five more than any receiver on either team. {Teammate Taivon Jacobs finished with three catches for 38 yards.)

It kept Moore comfortably ahead of Indiana’s Simmie Cobbs Jr. as the Big Ten’s leading receiver this season with 72 catches for 933 yards and eight touchdowns. Given those stats, Moore should be considered a lock for all-Big Ten. Given the quarterback situation, maybe even all-American.

While Stefan Diggs was more dynamic because of his raw speed, Moore is having an even better year as a receiver than Diggs did as a freshman in 2012 when he caught 54 passes for 848 yards and six touchdowns.

Moore is already proving to be more durable than Diggs, who missed much of his sophomore and junior years with injuries. Considering that he has played with nine quarterbacks in three seasons, Moore is certainly one of the most resilient receivers in NCAA history.

The regular-season finale between Penn State and Maryland at Maryland Stadium has been scheduled for 3:30 p,m. A win over the Nittany Lions will make the Terps' season.

2. Freshmen offensive linemen Johnny Jordan and Marcus Minor showed that Maryland can play like a Big Ten team.

Injuries to sophomore guard Terrence Davis and junior center Brendan Moore Saturday opened the door for Jordan and Minor, two highly-rated four-star players in the 2017 recruiting class, to get plenty of snaps against the Spartans.

Though the elements made it difficult to get a true gauge of what they did, the two fourth-quarter drives were an indication of how the Terps will look next November and beyond. When the ball was moving, Jordan and Minor were on the field.

It will be interesting to see if Davis and Moore get shut down for the regular season finale against Penn State, and the two true freshmen continue to build for their future. That Davis has two years of eligibility left and Moore one means that Durkin can let the freshmen take their time.

3. Like Mark Turgeon did when Maryland joined the Big Ten, DJ Durkin is being given a rough indoctrination from game officials.

It would be one thing is Durkin was a whiner or simple a jerk on the sideline. From all appearances, both during games and in other public settings, he is neither. So how do explain the high number of ridiculously bad calls that have gone against his Terps this year?

The worst might have come Saturday.

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In a season where admitted blown call by officials on a muffed Northwestern punt and an obvious interference call against Moore at the end of the Rutgers game cost Maryland a chance to win both games, officials hit rock bottom with running into the kicker call against Jacquille Veii.

It allowed Michigan State kicker Matt Coghlin to boot a 27-yard field goal after badly pushing a 32-yard attempt and stretch the Spartans lead to 17-0. It gave Michigan State some breathing room when Maryland scored and got the ball back.

While Henry Darmstadter’s missed 36-yard field goal ended any chance of going for an onside kick with a little under three minutes left, the call against Veii, who had trouble with his traction and put his hand on the kicker’s shoulder to brace his own fall, was horrible.

4. Defensive coordinator Andy Buh should continue to coach from the sideline.

Statistically, the Maryland defense got run over by the Spartans for 271 yards and two touchdown on 51 carries, including 147 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries by tailback L.J. Scott. Quarterback Brian Lewerke added another 63 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

But the defense made some good plays — including forcing a fumble near the goal line caused by linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. and recovered by nickel back RaVon Davis — and also put decent pressure on Lewerke, who completed just two of 14 passes for 20 yards.

Perhaps the most interesting sight was seeing Buh on the sideline screaming at his troops. Buh, who normally calls the game from the press box and who usually sounds like a high school guidance counselor in his weekly press conference, appeared to be just as animated as Durkin.

Buh has certainly taken a lot of heat again for the defense’s poor play. But given the loss of Aniebonam in the Texas game and the fact that freshman safety Markquese Bell was suspended for the season and wound up never playing a down before recently leaving Maryland, his defense was nearly as shorthanded in terms of playmakers as the offense.

5. Michigan State fans are nearly as bad Maryland fans when it comes to supporting their team.

Even though they had a built-in excuse (the weather) for leaving Spartan Stadium early, or not even showing up in the first place, the crowd was embarrassingly small for a program that prides itself on its long and deep football history.

In recent years, Michigan State fans have built a somewhat well-deserved reputation in the Big Ten for being front-runners, which is probably the only way to classify Maryland football fans since the only time Byrd Stadium was filled was early in Ralph Friedgen’s tenure.

Michigan State coach Mark D’Antonio tried to give the fans a pass who didn’t brave the elements Saturday. He went out of his way to praise those who were actually there among the announced crowd of 70,000, which appeared to be only about an exaggeration of 50,000. .

"They were the passionate fans -- those were the ones," Dantonio told reporters afterward. "They embraced it. They had a little bit of will as well, to stay in the elements. So they should be congratulated, and the win is their win as well."

Speaking of Maryland fans, it will be interesting to see how many show for Senior Day against Penn State. One longtime Maryland fan said that Nittany Lion fans could have their own “White Out” and a Senior Day South in College Park.

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