After a well-timed bye coming off the emotional win at Notre Dame, Ohio State retakes the field on Saturday in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium. Undefeated Maryland rolls into Columbus feeling disrespected having been left out of the most recent Top 25 poll and looking for the signature win of the Mike Locksley era.
Will the Buckeyes be able to shake off any rust and take care of business or should they be on upset alert?
Maryland is around a top 20-30 team by most metrics. The Terrapins will stress the OSU defense through a series of RPOs targeted at Will Steele Chambers and a solid screen game. But the Buckeyes will get Marvin Harrison involved early and improve their short yardage and red zone efficiency.
Ohio State 36 Maryland 22
Denzel Burke said he’s looking forward to getting more opportunities to make plays this week, so he should be pretty happy with his workload against Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terps. Maryland is going to have to hit some shots down the field to make life easier. The entire Ohio State secondary is going to have to be disciplined this week. Josh Proctor and Lathan Ransom weren’t tested as much as I thought they’d be against Notre Dame, but that should change this week.
I’m still waiting for the Ohio State offense to be a consistent nightmare for opposing defenses. I don’t think that happens this week, but they should be able to move the ball well enough to outscore Maryland. Kyle McCord needs to build on the Notre Dame game, and also move on from it. That starts this week. They need a consistent game from him. There is also an opportunity to build momentum with the running game. The Terps have been very good defensively in the red zone. If they force field goals, they can keep this close.
Ohio State 34 Maryland 17
I think the timing of the bye week was perfect for Ohio State or this game would be an even bigger trap setup. As always when coming out of the bye, it’s about how quickly teams settle in after their week-to-week routine is thrown off a bit. I think the Buckeyes gained a ton of confidence, especially Kyle McCord, in the win over Notre Dame and will continue to be able to open things up offensively a little more each week.
That being said, I think the line on this game is awfully high. Maryland, in my opinion, should be ranked and brings one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten to the table in Taulia Tagovailoa. Sophomore running back Roman Hemby is an impressive young back and the Terps have a plethora of capable pass catchers.
Ohio State will need to generate a consistent pass rush in this one as one of the negatives on Tagovailoa’s scouting report is that he can be pressured into interceptions.
I think Ohio State comes out a bit rusty and finds its footing in a game that will be a little closer than maybe most fans would like.
Ohio State 35 Maryland 21
Ohio State coming off an open week has been outstanding under Ryan Day. In 2019 they beat Northwestern 52-3 coming off their bye. In 2020 there was no bye, but in 2021 they beat Indiana 54-7. Last year, they took care of Iowa 54-10 coming off the week of rest. That is an average of about 53-7 in three post-bye week games under Day, which is absolutely tremendous.
The Buckeyes have also been very good against Maryland under Day. In 2019 they won 73-14 in Columbus, 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19, in 2021 they beat the Terps 66-17 in Columbus, and last year’s “scare” in College Park still saw OSU win 43-30. That’s an average score of about 61-20 in three games under Day against UMD.
I don’t see a score on Saturday that is similar to either the 53-7 or 61-20, but I think it could be closer to that than last year’s 13-point contest. I still won’t be fully sold on Ohio State’s defense not being a paper tiger until they do it against Penn State or Michigan, but I do think the unit is improved from last year, and I also think while Maryland is a solid offense, their numbers are inflated a bit due to the easy schedule they have played (116th out of 133).
I expect Ohio State to play a good game, taking the momentum off the win in South Bend and the week of much-needed rest into a strong performance on Saturday afternoon. OSU is far from a finished product on offense, but I think you’ll see steps forward, and I think the defense will do a good job keeping Tagovaiola relatively under control.
Ohio State 38 Maryland 17
As I have stated in previous pieces throughout the week, the Terps at home and the Terps on the road in this series have been two different teams with two very different margins of victory, but the outcome has always been the same with Ohio State being 8-0 in the overall series.
Will the Buckeyes come out rusty with the open week or did that pause come at the right time to clear the deck of any residual celebrating of the Notre Dame win?
The Terps absolutely should be ranked but sit at No. 26 in both the AP and coaches poll, but I don’t think there is anyone out there that feels that Maryland has played anyone yet.
Sure, both teams played Indiana, and the Terps beat the Hoosiers by a much more impressive margin and in a much more impressive manner. But Ohio State drew the Terps week one, when spring was eternal and even bad teams had the feeling that they were not going to be bad. By the time Maryland got them, Indiana knew how bad it was.
Ohio State’s offensive hiccups are not going to disappear overnight, but Maryland’s offense is built for an all-or-none scenario with a pass-heavy offense and a running game that is okay, not bad and not great. I don’t see the Terps extending a lot of drives on Ohio State.
That means the Ohio State offense should get more than eight possessions in this game and if Ohio State even gets 10, I think the Buckeyes should be able to put points up on six of them.
Maryland is too talented not to score a few points, the shutout is not going to happen, but the Buckeyes should be able to do enough to cover, barely this week.
Ohio State 38 Maryland 17
For the first time in close to a century, Ohio State will open its
season with five games against undefeated teams. This time, it’s
Maryland, and while the Terps have a shiny 5-0 record, they have not
exactly faced a Murderer’s Row of opposition. In fact, Maryland’s
previous opponents are 0-13 against Power 5 competition. That doesn’t
mean the Terps are bad, just unproven.
Taulia Tagovailoa is an experienced quarterback, who leads an
RPO-heavy offense, so the Buckeye defense will need to play smart and
assignment-sound football. When you dig into the advanced stats, you
can find questions about how good the Maryland defense really is. The
top-line numbers are good, but the more advanced analytics say they’re
mid. Those same stats say that the Buckeyes’ defense is legit, and the
only area where they’re not one of the best teams in the nation is
defending the run. Maryland’s rushing attack, headlined by Roman
Hemby, isn’t one they lean on much. Keep an eye on Colby McDonald, a
big play back who missed last week. If he returns this weekend, he
could give Maryland a few big pops on the ground.
Maryland should be competitive throughout, but likely won’t be able to
keep up for the full 60 minutes.
Ohio State 35 Maryland 21