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Maryland vs. Ohio State Football Prediction and Preview

C.J. Stroud, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes will be on upset alert on Saturday when they host an improving Terrapins team

After a brutal 51-14 home loss to Iowa, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley could only focus on the need for the Terrapins to regroup and get back to the business of winning football games. But there is no rest for the Terrapins (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten), who will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to take on an Ohio State Buckeyes team that has won its last three games to improve to 4-1 (2-0 in conference).

Following the Iowa loss, Locksley said, "Obviously, as the head coach, it's my job to get us to play well, which we didn't do today. But I also think it's important that we realize this is just one game. And it's important for us as a team to understand that one game shouldn't and can't define us, and we can't let one game played poorly, lead to a second one."

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is feeling better about the Buckeyes' third straight win since the Oregon loss in Week 2, as his team went on the road and thoroughly dominated Rutgers, 52-13. The victory at Rutgers marked the second time Ohio State won on the road for the 2021 season.

Following the win, Day said, "It's good to get those two wins for sure. With a young team and the way the schedule played out, it was what it was. We had to handle it. It made us stronger though. It has. Going on the road and handling a loss the second game of the year and those type of things has made us stronger and we can continue to build on this and that's been the whole goal. If we get better week-in and week-out and continue to get these guys reps, keep coaching better, giving them a better opportunity to be successful then hopefully we'll pick up our head in about a month where we need to be in November."

No. 7 Ohio State at Maryland

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 9 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -21

When Maryland Has the Ball

Until the debacle versus Iowa, Taulia Tagovailoa was off to a strong start in 2021. Tagovailoa had just one interception compared to 10 touchdown passes. Tagovailoa is not afraid to take off and run for positive yardage if the pocket breaks down, so the Buckeyes will need to account for Tagovailoa's mobility.

The Terrapins received disappointing yet expected news when it was announced that starting wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Demus was injured early in the game versus Iowa. Other talented wide receivers, such as Rakim Jarrett and Jeshaun Jones, or tight ends such as Chigoziem Okonkwo and Corey Dyches, will need to step up to help the Maryland passing game.

Ohio State has improved defensively since the Week 2 home loss to Oregon, but the Buckeyes are not completely out of the woods just yet. They will get another test against a Maryland offense that ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in points per game, total yards per game, and passing yards per game (and is ninth in rushing offense). A name to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Cameron Martinez, a defensive back who has emerged as one of Ohio State's playmakers on that side of the ball.

When Ohio State Has the Ball

C.J. Stroud was able to return to the starting lineup against Rutgers and it appeared that the rest did his ailing shoulder wonders. Stroud completed 17 of 23 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns. Stroud earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for his accomplishments.

The Buckeyes also ran the ball effectively with true freshman TreVeyon Henderson leading the way with 71 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Henderson suffered an injury at some point in the game vs. the Scarlet Knights and didn't play in the second half. But he also wasn't really needed (score was 45-6 at halftime) and it was probably a decision made due to precaution more than anything. Day said on Tuesday that Henderson will be "good to go" to face Maryland. Just like last week, fellow backs Master Teague III, Marcus Crowley, and possibly Miyan Williams (didn't play vs. Rutgers) will likely get their opportunities as well.

Even if Henderson is limited or the Terrapins are able to stifle Ohio State's running game, a talented and deep wide receiver group will certainly test Maryland's secondary. One player to watch on the Terps is safety Nick Cross. A Buckeyes recruiting target before he signed with Maryland, Cross will make his presence known with his physical style of play, as well as his ball-hawking abilities.

Final Analysis

Ohio State is heavily favored, but beware of the wounded animal that is coming into Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes have made strides defensively but are going to be tested by a Maryland passing game that will try to identify weaknesses within the defensive scheme.

This game could be a back-and-forth type of affair, and Ohio State may look to slow the game down to a pace of its liking, using the offensive line and stable of running backs to burn the clock. Look for Buckeyes fans, coaches, and players to exhale after this one as the team enters the bye week with a fourth straight victory.

Prediction: Ohio State 35, Maryland 21

Podcast: Week 6 Preview and Predictions + Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for Buckeye Scoop. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

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