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Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction

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As it pertains to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes, I have been asked the following question: "Are these 'escapes' grating at you or do just think it's the growing pains associated with the development of THIS team?" I can only answer how I see it, and I see it as a matter of growing pains.

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Allow me to elaborate. Ohio State is 5-0, with very unsatisfying wins over Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, and at Indiana, ever since the dominating win at Virginia Tech in the season opener. One week the offense struggles (for example, against Hawaii), but the defense rises up to play well. If the defense has some issues (for example, against Western Michigan), the offense rises up. And if turnovers are a problem (for example, at Indiana), the entire team seems to rise up to win the game in the closing moments. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I view these areas as a growing pains problem plaguing this year's team.

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Ohio State returns for its Homecoming game to face the Maryland Terrapins. Maryland enters this contest at 2-3, coming off a shutout home loss to the Michigan Wolverines (28-0). Last year, Ohio State defeated Maryland 52-24 in their first ever meeting.

Like Ohio State, Maryland has questions surrounding the quarterback position. Maryland has three players (Caleb Rowe, Perry Hills, Daxx Garman) all in the running to start at Ohio State. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has stated that “everybody is in play” as it relates to facing the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.

Maryland at Ohio State

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

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TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Ohio State -33.5

Three Things To Watch

1. Ohio State And Turnovers

If this sounds like a familiar theme from me, it is because this is an issue that has been plaguing Ohio State since the end of the 2014 season. Ohio State suffered three turnovers last week at Indiana, yet was able to escape against a determined Indiana Hoosiers squad. Ohio State needs to fix this problem, or its hopes of winning the national championship in 2015 will go down the drain.

2. Ohio State Running North And South

While Ohio State has an impressive arsenal of talented offensive players on its roster, such as Braxton Miller, Curtis Samuel, and Jalin Marshall, one player stands above the rest in terms of his importance to the Ohio State offense — Ezekiel Elliott. Ohio State was able to win the game at Indiana by running behind its strong offensive line, and Elliott demonstrated to the country his explosive speed once able to get to the second level of the defense. Instead of running plays laterally, Ohio State can establish a strong start by running right at Maryland from the onset of the game. If this aspect of the offense is established, the lateral plays will be more effective later on in the game.

3. Ohio State And The Red Zone

Against Indiana in the first half, Ohio State bogged down repeatedly, with three trips in the red zone only resulting in two field goals — one of the other field goal attempts bounced off the uprights. Cardale Jones demonstrated a lack of touch in the passing game, missing surefire touchdown passes to Michael Thomas and Nick Vannett by throwing passes with far too much heat on them. Could J.T. Barrett be brought in to relieve Jones at the quarterback position when Ohio State gets into the Maryland red zone?

Final Analysis

Ohio State is coming home to face a Maryland team that is only averaging 18.2 points a game, while usually giving up 31.8 points a game. If ever there was a game that could be the cure for what ails them, the Maryland Terrapins may be it for the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer had an air of frustration about the Buckeyes; look for Maryland to be on the receiving end of Meyer's frustration when this game concludes. 

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Prediction: Ohio State 42, Maryland 7

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.