Allar throws 4 TD passes as No. 9 Penn State routs Maryland 51-15; Michigan up next

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Penn State coach James Franklin watched his team turn a comfortable victory over Maryland into a rout, then made it clear he doesn't care much about style points.

“We've won a decent amount. Not as much as what everybody wants, I get that,” Franklin said. "But I also think we've taken winning for granted a little bit. We win games and you come into the press conference and it doesn't necessarily feel like that. ... I want to feel good for wins because they're hard to get, and there's examples — that you guys could use as well — every week of people that don't win the way they're supposed to win, or don't win at all.

“So that's what I'd like to do. I'd like to be happy for 15 minutes, and then get on to the next opponent.”

Franklin won't have that much time to savor his team's 51-15 victory Saturday, because now the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions face No. 2 Michigan — a season after the Wolverines rushed for 418 yards against Penn State. The Nittany Lions look much improved in that regard at least. They held Maryland to minus-49 yards on the ground.

Six Penn State sacks played a role in that, but even running backs Roman Hemby, Antwain Littleton II and Colby McDonald netted minus-6 yards on their seven carries.

“We wanted to be able to run the ball out of spread sets, and for whatever reason, we couldn’t cover people up and then you get into when you’re behind the sticks and you’re forced to throw the ball,” Maryland coach Michael Locksley said. “We didn’t hold up our protection. The interior part of our protection, whether it’s the centers and the guards or our backs on those linebackers, they outplayed us.”

Drew Allar threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half, and the Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten, No. 11 CFP) never were in danger of their meeting with fading Maryland becoming a trap game. The Terrapins (5-4, 2-4) have dropped four in a row, and a season that began with five straight wins is in danger of really unraveling.

KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State's leading receiver for the season, went down holding his left knee during the fourth quarter but was able to walk off.

Taulia Tagovailoa completed his first 17 pass attempts for the Terrapins, but he couldn't keep Penn State from taking a 21-7 halftime lead. One of those completions went for a loss of 1 on fourth-and-1 on Maryland's first possession, and the Nittany Lions took the ball and scored first on Allar's 6-yard pass to Dante Cephas.

The Terps answered with a drive into Penn State territory, but Tai Felton lost a fumble at the end of a 9-yard reception.

The Nittany Lions went up 14-0 on a trick play that didn't seem to work exactly as intended. Facing third down at the Maryland 2, Allar lined up at wide receiver and then took a pitch from quarterback Beau Pribula. Allar was cut off by a Maryland defender and started to run up the middle before being tripped. As he was falling down, he managed to flip the ball forward to an open Theo Johnson for a TD.

“I definitely just try to make plays happen when things break down,” Allar said. “Theo did a great job of staying in my vision on that play. It's something that I want to keep working on and keep building on — playing a little bit more free and loose.”

A roughing the punter penalty helped the Terps get on the scoreboard. Tagovailoa threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Hemby, but Allar answered with an 8-yarder to Tyler Warren.

Tagovailoa finished with 286 yards passing but threw an interception and lost a fumble. Allar went 25 of 34 for 240 yards.

Allar's 15-yard touchdown pass to Cephas early in the fourth made it 31-7. Tagovailoa then threw a 1-yard TD pass to Jeshaun Jones.

Kaytron Allen's 10-yard scoring run for Penn State made it 38-15.

Three of Maryland's four turnovers came in the final quarter, enabling the Nittany Lions to pad their lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The big test comes next week, but the Nittany Lions do look better equipped to deal with Michigan's offense than last year. Allar, who has thrown only one interception all season, avoided any big mistakes Saturday as well.

Maryland: The Terps are now 0-33 against ranked Big Ten teams since joining the league in 2014. The season would still look a lot better for them if they hadn't followed their loss to Ohio State with two against Illinois and Northwestern before Saturday's game. Maryland still needs another win to become bowl eligible.

MORE OF THE SAME

Penn State now leads the series against Maryland 43-3-1, and this was the 13th time the Nittany Lions have scored at least 42 points on the Terps.

UP NEXT

Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Michigan next Saturday.

Maryland: The Terps play at Nebraska on Saturday.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football