Maryland football offensive coordinator Walt Bell wanted an "ugly, grinded-out game" Saturday against No. 22 Michigan State centered on a strong rushing performance.
It was certainly ugly.
The Terps struggled to move the ball amid heavy winds, rain and eventually snow in East Lansing, not taking advantage of the weather as Bell had hoped. They managed just 68 first-half yards in the 17-7 loss, and a late attempted rally fell short with a missed field goal, ending Maryland's pursuit of an automatic bowl bid.
Quarterback Max Bortenschlager returned after missing last weekend's game against Michigan due to injury, but he was consistently off the mark Saturday, finishing with 121 passing yards and a turnover. He was benched for part of the second half.
When it started snowing early in the second quarter, Bortenschlager had only thrown for four yards and the Terps trailed by two touchdowns. The worsened conditions made it difficult for Bortenschlager to overcome his shaky start, and with about 13 minutes left in the first half, he fumbled deep in his own territory. It was his eighth turnover of the campaign.
Backup Ryan Brand — a walk-on transfer from Air Force — entered for Maryland (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten) to begin the second half. Brand threw two interceptions in his first-ever start against the Wolverines a week ago, but his dual-threat abilities seemed suited for the winter climate.
Brand, who rooted for the Spartans growing up in Detroit, did not attempt a pass in the third quarter. Maryland gained 23 yards in the period. Bortenschlager came back for the fourth.
Michigan State (8-3, 6-2), meanwhile, moved the ball effectively despite a similarly poor passing performance. The Spartans gained 271 on the ground against Maryland's 73rd-ranked run defense, offsetting a 20-yard passing day. Running back LJ Scott led the way with 147 yards and a touchdown.
Still, the Terps had an opportunity to come back after holding Michigan State to three second-half points.
Running back Lorenzo Harrison capped a fourth-quarter Maryland drive with a four-yard burst into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 17-7 with about 10 minutes remaining. But after the Terps drove into the red zone a few minutes later with a chance to make it a one-score game, Henry Darmstadter missed a 36-yard field goal, allowing the Spartans to run out the clock.