2021 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Maryland
This week’s Big Ten East matchup will be against two teams that are both 4 and 1, and are still in the hunt for the Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State is coming off a victory against Rutgers where they have looked their most complete, while Maryland is coming in with a loss after looking the worst they have all season against Iowa, who forced 7 turnovers. These two teams though bring in two of the best offenses in the Big Ten, and could be a battle of who can make the most stops.
This will be the second time Ryan Day will go against Mike Locksley, who is in his third season with the Terrapins, after last years game was cancelled due to COVID. Ohio State has won all 6 contests between the two teams, with the 2019 win with the score of 73-14. This game will be on FOX, and will kick off from the Horsehoe at noon, but the Big Noon Kickoff crew will be in Iowa City IA for the match up between Iowa and Penn State.
Head Coach: Mike Locksley (3rd season)
2021 Record: 4-1
Location: College Park, MD
Conference: Big 10
Ohio State Preview: The Buckeyes have climbed back up into the top 10 in both the AP and Coaches Poll after 4 teams above them lost this past weekend, including Oregon. They will not play another ranked opponent until Penn State on October 30th, but they have time and opponents to help level out the change in their defense, which seems to be coming along quicker than anticipated. After starting out near the bottom in overall defense, they have jumped up over 30 spots and can still climb. Their offense is on pace for historic numbers, and their average yards per play is better than it has been at any time in Ohio State history.
CJ Stroud looks to be health again, and is second in the league in passing yards, but still one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the country in quarterback rating. He has thrown now for 1295 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He is not the running threat that Fields and Barrett have been, but he is showing he can extend plays and avoid the sack when needed. If he is able to continue to improve, this team could be very dangerous.
TreVeyon Henderson is the lead running back for the team, and there doesnt seem to be any looking back from that decision. He has rushed for 510 yards on 54 carries, a staggering 9.4 yards per carry, and 7 touchdowns. He was held back after getting hurt in the Rutgers game, but Ryan Day said Henderson will be good to go this week. Mast Teague and Marcus Crowley have been filling in for Miyan Williams, who has not rushed the past two weeks.
At receiver, Garret Wilson is still the lead yardage and catch getting with 462 yards on 26 catches and 4 touchdowns. Chris Olave, who is tied with Cris Carter in 3rd place for most touchdowns in Ohio State history, has 374 yards on 23 catches and 5 touchdowns. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the third receiver with 18 catches for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Maryland Preview: Maryland has done a great job so far this season, and has one of the better offenses in the country, but ran into the Buzzsaw that is the Iowa Hawkeyes defense last week. They looked strong to start the year with wins against West Virginia, Howard, Illinois, and Kent State. They have the 22nd best offense in the country, averaging almost 470 yards a game. They just happen to be going against the number 1 offense in the country after going against a top defense.
Taulia Tagovailoa has lead the offense and has 1497 passing yards along with 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has also added 57 rush yards on the ground.
Tayon Fleet-Davis is the lead running back with 331 yards on 37 carries and 4 touchdowns. Behind him is Isaiah Jacobs, who has 28 carries for 116 yards. Their lead receiver Dontay Demus Jr is out for the year, but they have a good tandem of receivers in Rakim Jarrett and Jeshaun Jones. Jarrett has 21 catches for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Jone has 17 catches for 218 yards.
Buckeye Spotlight: Denzel Burke. The freshman has been playing like an All-American and has been a leader on the team despite his experience. He goes against the two best receivers in the country in Olave and Wilson, and that time on the practice field has been paying off in the games where it matters. He will need to be a shut down corner and neutralize the passing threat of Taulia Tagovailoa.
Terrapin Spotlight: Taulia Tagovailoa. The younger brother of Tua, he followed Mike Locksley from Alabama to Maryland, and has been the Big Ten’s passing leader through the first 5 weeks of the season in passing yards. He can be dangerous as a passer and a runner and will need to make more plays on his own with the news that his top receiver is out for the season.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 4. Ohio State leads the country in interceptions for a touchdown with 4. As much as can be knocked on the defense for their struggles at the beginning of the season, they have shown they can be dangerous.
Prediction: The defense for Ohio State is making strides with disguising a bit more their coverages, and letting the players fly around to the ball. Maryland will be trying to regroup after getting handled at home against Iowa, and will have to face an Ohio State team that also has the ability to force turnovers. If Stroud continues his performance from last week, and is able to make the throws, this game should be over by halftime. This should be another statement win for the Buckeyes as they head into the bye week and prepare to finish their last half of the regular season.
Ohio State 56 – Maryland 10
Photo Credit to Getty Images | The Washington Post