EAST LANSING – Michigan State came into its 107th homecoming football game looking for a fresh start after getting blown out by Washington last week, 41-7. They were unable to bounce back, falling to Maryland 31-9 and starting Big Ten play 0-1 for the second straight year.
Defensive starters Jacoby Windmon, Khris Bogle, and Charles Brantley were all out with injuries, which proved to be a tough blow for Michigan State.
Noah Kim’s first two starts of the season compared to his most recent two are night and day. He completed a combined 36 of 53 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns in weeks one and two. His last two starts haven’t quite done the job, though. Today facing Maryland, although throwing for 190 yards, he was picked off twice and eventually got replaced by redshirt freshman Katin Houser in the fourth quarter.
“Noah’s our quarterback, he’s our guy,” interim head coach Harlon Barnett said after the game. Barnett explained the decision to bring in Houser was in hopes of getting more going on offense. “Sometimes you’re just trying to find a spark,” he said.
The competition has ramped up since the first two weeks, with a pair of very experienced quarterbacks coming into Spartan Stadium. Kim had never started a college football game until 22 days ago. That being said, he will need to improve mightily in order to keep pace for the rest of Big Ten play.
The same could be said for the MSU defense, who still have their fair share of talented offenses to face in the conference slate.
Noah Kim threw an opening drive interception, handing Maryland great field position. The Terrapins took advantage of the turnover and capitalized with a 45-yard drive concluding in the end zone. QB Taulia Tagovailoa easily connected with a wide open Sean Greeley in the end zone to get on the board.
Michigan State did get into a groove on offense their next time out. Kim completed four passes and led the offense all the way down to Maryland’s one-yard line. On fourth and goal, MSU elected to go for it but the Terrapin defense stuffed Nathan Carter for a 4 yard loss.
Maryland extended its lead in the second quarter, on what would be the second of three straight touchdowns on as many possessions to start the game. Tagovailoa’s versatility as a quarterback came into play, picking up nine yards using his legs before tossing his second touchdown of the day.
A Nathan Carter fumble allowed the Terps to set up shop with tremendous field position yet again. Maryland easily put together a swift drive, lasting less than two minutes. It was capped off by a Tagovailoa keeper which stretched the lead to 21-0.
The Spartan offense finally delivered points late in the first half, although they would have liked for it to be six instead of three. Noah Kim found Montorie Foster Jr. and Nathan Carter, each for nine yards. Carter also picked up 22 yards on the ground before Jonathan Kim nailed a 37-yard field goal. As time expired in the first half, Jonathan Kim had his second field goal attempt blocked.
In the third quarter, Noah Kim hurled his first touchdown pass in two weeks to Tyrell Henry who came down with a nice catch in the end zone. Finally cashing in for six points fired up the homecoming crowd and the MSU defense who proceeded to pitch a three-and-out.
The second half was sluggish until Katin Houser trotted out in place of Noah Kim with 10:53 left in the contest. Houser was leading a nice drive and completed six of ten passes for 75 yards before throwing an interception of his own. It was a deflating finish to a pretty encouraging drive.
Taulia Tagovailoa didn’t necessarily have the flashy performance he’s capable of, but he got the job done using his arm and his legs to make plays and ultimately give Maryland a solid road win to improve to 4-0. Three passing touchdowns along with one rushing is certainly nothing to sneeze at for one of the best quarterbacks in Terrapin history.
Turnovers, dropped passes and a handful of other slip-ups would emerge as the story of the game for the Spartans, sucking the energy right out of the crowd time after time.
Michigan State will face its first road test of the season, making the trip to Iowa City next Saturday. It’s an under the lights showdown between the Spartans and Hawkeyes, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Kinnick Stadium on NBC.