Buckeyes can't afford to look past bowl-seeking Terrapins
Coming off a 26-6 victory on the road at Michigan State, the Ohio State Buckeyes cannot afford to rest on their laurels when they take on Maryland. Looking to stay in contention for the Big Ten East Division title, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has done his best to make sure that the players realize what kind of an opponent will be awaiting them in the Terrapins. "I had a chat with them. I think this is one of the more talented teams in the Big Ten," Meyer said Monday. "They beat Texas early on. They have extremely good skill. They just had a guy rush for 200 yards. Their defense is a top-20 defense. Our guys watched film."
This game at Maryland is a homecoming of sorts for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins played his high school football at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, and was originally verbally committed to the Terrapins until changing his mind and signing with the Buckeyes instead in February 2016. Other Ohio State players who hail from the state of Maryland include sophomore defensive end Chase Young, freshman defensive lineman Taron Vincent, junior linebacker Keandre Jones, and senior offensive tackle Isaiah Prince.
At 5-5, the Terrapins are at a crucial point in their season. Needing a sixth win to gain bowl eligibility, the Terrapins are coming off a last-minute 34-32 loss at Indiana. "This isn't the last game of the season," interim head coach Matt Canada said following the loss. "Oh my gosh we wanted to win, we certainly could have."
Maryland will go into this game against Ohio State without quarterback Kasim Hill. Hill tore his ACL in the second quarter of last week's loss to the Hoosiers. Redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome will get the start against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State at Maryland
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Ohio State -14
Three Things To Watch
1. Ohio State's rush offense vs. Maryland's rush defense
Over the past two weeks, Ohio State has made a concerted effort to improve its running game. Against Nebraska, the Buckeyes were able to rush for 229 yards on the ground, while at Michigan State, the Buckeyes were able to rush for 120 yards, led by redshirt junior Mike Weber's 104 yards. Maryland is giving up about 161 yards on the ground per game. With the Buckeyes focusing on improving their run game, it will bear watching to see if Weber and sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins are able to gain much ground against a Terrapin defense that will probably look to sell out against the run.
2. Maryland's rush offense vs. Ohio State's rush defense
Ohio State is coming off a game at Michigan State that saw the Buckeyes limit the Spartans to only 54 yards total on the ground. Maryland freshman running back Anthony McFarland is coming off a monster game at Indiana that saw him gain 220 yards against the Hoosiers. Combined with a talented dual-threat quarterback such as Pigrome, the Buckeyes can ill-afford to have a defensive lapse.
3. Maryland's capacity for the upset
Senior linebacker Tre Watson, one of the Terrapins' leaders, is looking at this game against Ohio State as an opportunity to finish the season on a positive note, pointing out that, "Purdue wasn’t favored a couple of weeks ago when they put it on Ohio State." As long as Maryland is within striking distance of Ohio State, the possibility of an upset is there.
Ohio State is coming off two straight wins, but neither was overly impressive. The Buckeyes played sluggishly at home in their eventual 36-31 defeat of Nebraska on Nov. 3, and Ohio State's 26-6 win at Michigan State was aided substantially by the Spartans' self-inflicted mistakes (safety, turnovers that led to points) in the fourth quarter. Ohio State has had its way with Maryland since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014, but Ohio State's defensive issues and inconsistent running game will keep this one close until the fourth quarter, when Ohio State will wear down the Terrapin defense running the ball.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Maryland 24