Preview: No. 1-Ranked Ohio State Hosts Maryland to Start Last Month of Common Season
Primarily based solely upon how the 2 groups have carried out this yr, there’s little cause to consider that Saturday’s sport between Ohio State and Maryland shall be aggressive.
Ohio State has received all eight of its video games this season by at the very least 24 factors, is ranked among the many nation’s leaders in nearly each main statistical class on either side of the ball and is No. 1 on this yr’s preliminary Faculty Soccer Playoff rankings.
Maryland is simply 3-6 this season, has misplaced 4 straight video games and has been unspectacular on each offense and protection.
Ohio State is favored to win Saturday’s sport by greater than six touchdowns; the Buckeyes opened as a 44-point favourite, a full landing greater than they had been initially favored by towards Miami (Ohio), a workforce they beat 76-5.
All of these are causes to consider that Ohio State ought to cruise to a simple win over Maryland on Saturday. However the Buckeyes weren’t anticipated to want extra time to beat a mediocre Maryland workforce final yr, both, when the Terrapins got here a two-point conversion away from pulling off a shocking upset earlier than Ohio State escaped from Faculty Park with a 52-51 win.
Ohio State has been exponentially higher on protection than it was final yr, which is why nearly everyone seems to be anticipating a totally completely different sport this yr. However the Buckeyes shall be with out their greatest defensive participant, Chase Younger, after Ohio State introduced Friday that it’s trying into an NCAA eligibility difficulty from 2018 involving the star defensive finish.
In every week by which Ryan Day has continued to evangelise the significance of specializing in one week at a time, and by which the Buckeyes are actually dealing with their first actual adversity of the yr, final yr’s sport towards Maryland continues to function a warning to not take this yr’s sport calmly.
“They’ve actually proficient gamers, and we discovered that final yr,” Ohio State security Jordan Fuller stated this week.
Maryland’s first season underneath new head coach Mike Locksley bought off to a promising begin, when the Terrapins earned a 79-Zero shutout win over Howard of their season opener and adopted that up with a 63-20 win over Syracuse of their second sport of the yr.
Since then, although, the Terrapins have received simply one in every of their final seven video games. They earned a 48-7 win over Rutgers, the worst workforce within the Large Ten, however have misplaced all of their different convention video games together with 4 losses by 26 factors or extra.
Offensively, the Terrapins have been affected by accidents to a few of their most necessary gamers.
Beginning quarterback Josh Jackson, a graduate switch from Virginia Tech, missed time with an ankle damage and has accomplished simply 49.7 p.c of his passses this yr for 1,065 yards and 10 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.
Working again Anthony McFarland, who ran for 298 yards and two touchdowns towards the Buckeyes final season, has additionally been affected by an ankle damage and has rushed for simply 438 yards and 7 touchdowns in eight video games this season.
Jeshaun Jones, Maryland’s high returning large receiver from 2018, has missed all the season with a torn ACL.
Collectively, Maryland is simply 86th in yards gained per sport (384.4), 76th in yards gained per play (5.68) and 63rd in factors scored per sport (29.6).
Towards high competitors, Maryland’s offense hasn’t been efficient – the Terrapins had been shut out by Penn State and scored simply seven factors towards Michigan and 10 towards Minnesota – however they nonetheless have weapons who make them harmful. Working again Javon Leake leads the Large Ten with 7.75 yards per carry (581 yards and 7 touchdowns on 75 carries) and 10 all-purpose of 30-plus yards this season, together with two kickoff return touchdowns, whereas large receiver Dontay Demus – who had a 56-yard catch towards the Buckeyes final yr – has 32 catches for 491 yards and 4 touchdowns this season.
“They’ve a few of the higher ability guys we’ve seen this yr,” Day stated this week.
Dontay Demus is among the many playmakers to observe for Maryland’s offense on Saturday. Tommy Gilligan – USA TODAY Sports activities
Statistically, Maryland’s efficiency has been equally mediocre on either side of the ball. The Terrapins protection ranks 85th in yards allowed per sport (413.8), 77th in yards allowed per play (5.76) and 85th in factors allowed per sport (30.0).
That stated, Day believes the Terrapins are coming off their greatest sport of the season on protection, by which they held Michigan to 331 yards – the Wolverines’ third-lowest complete of the season, although they did rating 38 factors. Day additionally identified that Maryland is likely one of the surest tackling groups within the nation; based on SportSource Analytics, the Terrapins rank second nationally with a missed deal with charge of solely 6.Eight p.c.
“They’ve some good gamers – again finish, entrance finish, they provide you a variety of completely different appears to be like – coordinator (Jon Hoke)’s an NFL man, provides you a bunch of various fronts,” Day stated. “So that they’re a problem there.”
Maryland’s main tacklers embody inside linebacker Ayinde Eley, who has a team-high 65 complete tackles; security Antoine Brooks Jr., who leads the workforce with 52 solo tackles amongst 57 complete tackles; and former Ohio State linebacker Keandre Jones, who now begins at strongside linebacker for the Terps and leads them with 11 tackles for loss and 6 sacks.
Till Friday’s information that Chase Younger can be unavailable to play on Saturday resulting from an NCAA violation, which he says stemmed from “accepting a mortgage from a household pal” that he has since repaid in full, every thing had been going swimmingly for Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes have been dominant on either side of the ball, and even nonetheless, there’s little cause to consider Ohio State ought to have any bother pulling away from Maryland for an additional convincing win this week.
|91.2||2nd||PASS EFFICIENCY DEFENSE||145.7||101st|
Day was already on guard, although, towards the chance that the Buckeyes could possibly be distracted by the skin noise surrounding this system now that they’re the top-ranked workforce within the nation.
All through this week, Day’s message to his workforce has been that whereas they’ve achieved their aim of beginning the season 8-Zero and placing themselves ready to make the Faculty Soccer Playoff, they have to proceed to deal with the method over the prize and work to proceed getting higher, and that it may take just one dangerous sport to probably extinguish their nationwide championship hopes. They nonetheless have a month left to go within the common season, to allow them to’t afford to let up now.
“The one factor that issues is the tip of the season, and I feel our guys know that. I don’t suppose that they’re centered on that in any respect, doesn’t imply something,” Day stated of being No. 1 within the Faculty Soccer Playoff rankings. “Our bull’s-eye getting larger and larger each week, however we anticipated that getting in. That is one thing we talked about: If we proceed to deal with enterprise week in and week out, it’s going to get larger and larger, the video games get larger and larger, and that’s what we wish.”
Ohio State’s gamers have purchased into Day’s messages and have maintained an incredible degree of focus and depth all season, and that’s seemingly continued to be the case this week. Day stated Thursday that he thought the Buckeyes “had a greater day of apply (Wednesday) than we’ve had in a very long time,” and Fuller was among the many gamers who expressed this week that the Buckeyes stay removed from glad with what they’ve achieved to this point.
“I really feel like we haven’t achieved a lot but,” Fuller stated. “We’ve performed nicely, however when it comes to accomplishments, we’ve received eight video games, proper? That’s about it. We bought an entire lot of soccer left to play.”
Ohio State’s protection had its worst sport of a foul season final yr at Maryland, when it gave up a whopping 51 factors on 535 complete yards. This yr, the Buckeyes’ protection hasn’t even come near having a sport like that, holding each one in every of its opponents underneath 300 yards and its final seven opponents to 10 factors or fewer.
Being with out their star pass-rusher in Younger, although, will put a bit extra strain on everybody else on Ohio State’s protection to carry out at their greatest in his absence. Jonathon Cooper can also be out for this week’s sport resulting from damage, so the Buckeyes shall be with out each of their beginning defensive ends, which means they’ll depend on sophomores Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday, true freshman Zach Harrison and redshirt freshman Javontae Jean-Baptiste to step up.
Offensively, Justin Fields and J.Okay. Dobbins will look to maintain issues buzzing for the Buckeyes, who’ve scored at the very least 34 factors and gained greater than 400 yards in all eight of their video games this season. The Buckeyes have had spectacular offensive steadiness, operating for greater than 200 yards in each sport and throwing for greater than 200 yards in each sport till their final sport towards Wisconsin, and are at the moment ranked third nationally in factors scored per sport (48.3) and sixth in yards gained per sport (514.8).
So long as the Buckeyes don’t let this week’s potential distractions get into their heads and play the identical means they’ve performed all yr, they shouldn’t have a lot bother enhancing to 9-Zero on Saturday. Day believes it will be significant, although, for his workforce to not let off the gasoline pedal in any respect.
“If we don’t play our greatest sport, we’ll be in a sport like we had been final yr,” Day stated. “So I feel we now have the workforce’s consideration, particularly coming off a bye week. We have now to start out quick and have a pointy sport.”
Even with the information that Younger is not going to play towards Maryland, Ohio State continues to be a 43.5-point favourite to win Saturday’s sport, which signifies the clear-cut benefit that the Buckeyes ought to nonetheless have over the Terrapins.
|2018||Faculty Park||Ohio State 52, Maryland 51 (OT)|
|2017||Columbus||Ohio State 62, Maryland 14|
|2016||Faculty Park||Ohio State 62, Maryland 3|
|2015||Columbus||Ohio State 49, Maryland 28|
|2014||Faculty Park||Ohio State 52, Maryland 24|
Whereas Younger is probably the most irreplaceable participant on the workforce not named Justin Fields, Ohio State’s defensive position ought to nonetheless have the benefit within the trenches over Maryland’s offensive line, which has been shaky particularly in cross safety. Extra importantly, the Buckeyes’ linebackers and secondary – who struggled mightily towards the Terrapins final yr – have performed significantly better this yr.
Though the Terrapins had been a mediocre workforce once they almost upset Ohio State final yr, too, they hadn’t been overwhelmed down by high competitors in fairly the style that Penn State (59-0), Minnesota (52-10) and Michigan (38-7) have this yr, and the Buckeyes ought to pose an excellent harder matchup than all of these groups.
Selecting Ohio State to cowl a diffusion of greater than six touchdowns may not be a wise wager, particularly contemplating that that is the primary time all yr that the Buckeyes’ protection shall be examined with out Younger, however Ohio State stays a secure wager to defeat Maryland for a sixth consecutive yr and enhance to 9-Zero on the season, probably with one other blowout win within the course of.
ELEVEN WARRIORS STAFF PREDICTION: Ohio State 52, Maryland 7