Maryland has hopes of climbing up the ladder of the Big Ten under Mike Locksley, and it's a huge task but Locksley can recruit with the best of them. A foundation for that climb may have been found in Alabama transfer quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. If Maryland has hopes of beating Penn State in 2020, Tagovailoa will have to perform like he did against Minnesota. If he puts up another performance like he did against Northwestern, Penn State's recent dominance over the Terrapins will continue.
Against Minnesota, Tagovailoa put up 453 yards of total offense and 5 touchdowns (2 rushing). With those sorts of numbers, Maryland could provide a shootout in Happy Valley. Unfortunately, there's a second data point for Tagovailoa as Maryland's starting quarterback. Against Northwestern, he went 14/25 on passes with 94 yards through the air, -16 yards on the ground, and 3 interceptions. Also halting the hype train is the fact that Minnesota is proving to have an atrocious defense. So far it's two very different sides of the same coin.
If the Northwestern version of Tagovailoa shows up on Saturday, Penn State shouldn't have anything to sweat. If the Minnesota version comes to play, we could have a shootout on our hands. This is where Penn State's linebackers come into play.
Penn State's cornerbacks are proving they are capable providing good coverage. The bigger threat in the passing game will come on crossing concepts over the middle of the field. Along with that threat comes the rushing ability from the quarterback position. The linebackers will have to play their best ball of the year up to this point. The defensive line will get pressure but if the linebackers can't keep Tagovailoa from picking up yards with his feet or picking up yards across the middle of the field through the air, Penn State fans could be in for yet another close game.