The ugliness going on behind the scenes at Michigan State spilled onto the football field last weekend.
The Spartans will try to bounce back from that woeful on-field performance when they open their Big Ten season against undefeated Maryland at East Lansing, Mich., Saturday.
Michigan State served notice on Monday to suspended head coach Mel Tucker that it intends to fire him for cause. Accusations of sexual harassment by Tucker surfaced the previous week.
The Spartans (2-1) were pummeled at home 41-7 by No. 8 Washington last Saturday. Their defense was shredded for 713 total yards, including 536 passing.
“We got our butts kicked,” Michigan State interim coach Harlon Barnett said. “Now, how do we improve from that and get better from that?”
Barnett summed it up in simple terms.
“The word I’ve been focused on this week is discipline,” he said. “If we’re disciplined, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to play a much better ballgame — less penalties, substitution errors, things like that.”
Quarterback Noah Kim was held to 136 passing yards and was intercepted for the first time this season by the Huskies.
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has been picked off twice this season but also has completed 66.7 percent of his throws, including five touchdowns. He threw for 342 yards and a touchdown in a 42-14 victory over Virginia last week.
Tagovailoa passed for 314 yards and a touchdown in Maryland’s 27-13 victory over the Spartans last season.
The Terrapins (3-0) have outscored their three nonconference opponents 118-40 this season, but coach Mike Locksley said he hasn’t been overly impressed.
“We made it through our nonconference schedule,” he said. “We did what was necessary, but we also realize the things we did in those three games aren’t sufficient because we’re still a work in progress.”
Maryland gave up two touchdowns to Virginia in the first quarter, then scored 42 unanswered points. The previous week, Charlotte took a 14-0 lead before the Terps won 38-20.
“I’d like to see us get back to our standard of starting fast and finishing strong,” Locksley said.