LOCATION: Maryland Stadium (College Park, MD)
BETTING LINE: +29 (Maryland)
OHIO STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mike Weber–Running Back – #25
Mike Weber has ran the ball hard this year but has not eclipsed 100 yards rushing since the first week of October against Rutgers. With the exception of the game at Penn State, he has averaged over four yards per carry with an average of six yards per carry on the season. Maryland has the potential of being a nice schedule break before the Buckeyes gear up for Michigan State and Michigan so look for Weber to be busy and control the clock. He has the potential to be an outstanding running back for the Buckeyes in the future and has been a great compliment to halfback Curtis Samuel. Look for Weber to be involved in the offense heavily, even with a split backfield, to set up play action pass and keep J.T. Barrett calm in the pocket.
MARYLAND PLAYER TO WATCH
Ty Johnson-Running Back – #6
Maryland has featured a dual-threat running back core for the majority of the season but Ty Johnson comes into Saturday with a high ceiling for big-play ability. He has averaged an outstanding 9.2 yards per carry and has contributed five touchdowns both in the run and pass game. Maryland lacks the athletes that Ohio State has on their defense but Ty Johnson can help ease the pain and has the potential of taking over the game at home. Look for Johnson to be a big part of the Terrapins’ offense, on all three downs if Maryland hopes to pull off an upset this Saturday.
Ohio State Buckeyes Key Positions
J.T. Barrett returned to his early season form last week and dominated Nebraska. Although his stats looked phenomenal, Barrett still struggled to push the ball downfield and even missed his running backs on two separate occasions for touchdowns in the first half. He played much better last week than in the past but must find a way to connect down field to make any splash against Ohio State’s tough opponent Michigan in three weeks.
Meyer has relied on his running backs heavily (besides Michigan State in 2015) and this week will not be different. What is supposed to be an easy win for the Buckeyes, Meyer will not risk the off chance of momentum swing and will control the tempo of the game with his big back Mike Weber and let Curtis Samuel roam the field for a big play opportunity.
After a couple week absence of Ohio State’s big plays, their secondary returned not one but two interceptions for touchdowns against the Cornhuskers. Maryland will have to push the ball downfield and take chances to match Ohio State’s athletic roster so look for the duo of Damon Webb and Malik Hooker to be active in the secondary.
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? WATCH: @OSUCoachMeyer press conference
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
The Ohio State Buckeyes, coming off a convincing win against Nebraska, travel to Maryland to take on the Terrapins in this Big Ten East Showdown. Ohio State will try to reestablish their dominance as they grow closer to the Michigan game, while Maryland is attempting to earn their first win against Ohio State since joining the Big Ten.
Ohio State showed the nation that they are still an elite team after a 62-3 demolition of Nebraska. J.T. Barrett regained confidence throwing the ball for four touchdowns but still failed to complete the deep ball for the most part. Look for head coach Urban Meyer to put an emphasis on controlling the clock, running the ball, and setting up play action pass to help Barrett stay comfortable in the pocket and get him in space.
On defense, Ohio State must stick to their game plan schematically and they will find success. It is no secret that Ohio State’s defense has the athletes to take advantage of a struggling Maryland team, but can not get lazy with their assignments. Expect the defensive line to get after whoever plays quarterback for the Terrapins.
As for the Terrapins, Maryland is still adjusting to joining the Big Ten and is searching for their first Big Ten win since Michigan State in week seven. Starting quarterback Perry Hills is questionable this week against the Buckeyes, so the running back duo of Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison will be counted on even more.
Defensively, Maryland has not recorded an interception since beating Michigan State but will have to find a way to generate turnovers if they hope to avoid a similar beating from last week. Defensive back Alvin Hill (two interceptions on the season) will be a player to watch as he matches up against some of the shiftiest receivers in the FBS. Look for defensive coordinator Andy Buh to dial up some blitzes in hopes of making Barrett uncomfortable in the pocket and force some unnecessary throws early.
This Big Ten contest is a must win for the Buckeyes, but Maryland has nothing to lose moving forward in the season. Both coaches hope this game will be a building block for the last portion of the season, heading into a possible bowl game.
Maryland Terrapins Key Positions
The Maryland offensive line will have the tough task of holding off Ohio State’s “NASCAR” package as they get after quarterback Perry Hills. Hills was injured against Michigan a week ago and is questionable to go this coming week. If he is unable to start, the offensive line will play an even larger role as Caleb Rowe will be thrown into a starting role.
Maryland struggled to get after Wilton Speight a week ago and he made them pay. Junior defensive lineman Chandler Burkett recorded the only sack of the game for the Terrapins, and will be counted on to force J.T. Barrett into making throws that he is uncomfortable with. The Terrapin’s defensive line must stick to their lanes and keep Barrett in the pocket to limit his duel threat capabilities.
Realistically Maryland must get creative in the scoring column if they hope to keep pace with the Buckeyes’ high powered offense. Plays in special teams made the difference for the Buckeyes against Penn State and Maryland will have to do the same. If they have the opportunity to steal a score on kick/punt they may just have a chance to ruin the Buckeyes season.
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