Who: No. 20 Ohio State (3-1) vs. Maryland (4-1)
When: Saturday, Oct. 4 at Noon ET.
Where: Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland
The Terrapins are officially experiencing their first “Buckeye Bump,” as Ohio State comes to town for Maryland’s inaugural Big Ten home opener. Byrd Stadium has sold out for the first time since November 2008, when the Seminoles came to town, and in a clever bit of marketing, Maryland has announced a “Red-Out” to avoid what happened to Cal last year, and what Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, and Northwestern among others in the Big 10 have grown accustomed to – Buckeye fans overwhelming their stadium. But although you may be able to blend scarlet with red, you cannot hide crowd noise, and the Buckeye faithful will undoubtedly make themselves heard on Saturday.
Randy Edsall is off to his best start (4-1) as Maryland’s head coach, and he will be looking for a statement win to get Maryland’s first Big Ten campaign off to a booming start. Ohio State hopes to welcome the Terrapins to the conference with a loss, as the Buckeyes begin to find their form behind JT Barrett who has passed for 300 yards in back-to-back games – the first Ohio State quarterback to do so since Troy Smith in 2005.
Keys for the Buckeyes
Limit Big Plays
Ohio State gave up a total of 352 yards to the Bearcats last week, but over 60 percent of those yards were gained on just three plays: touchdown passes of 60, 78, and 83 yards. The secondary still appears to be very suspect, but the apparent lack of safety help brings the play-calling into question. Chris Ash needs to do what he was he brought to Columbus to accomplish, and that is sure up the secondary.
Get After the Quarterback… just, which one?
It is uncertain of who will start for the Terrapins on Saturday, as start C.J. Brown is listed as a game-time decision with a sprained wrist. Caleb Rowe is capable backup, throwing for 316 yards and four touchdowns this year, but Rowe lacks the versatile running ability Brown possesses. Brown has rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns this year. Ohio State has struggled with athletic quarterbacks in the past, so the opportunity to face Rowe for an entire game could bode well for the likes of Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett.
Lock Down Diggs
The name Stefon Diggs should sound familiar to Buckeye fans, as the Olney, Maryland native and 5-star recruit chose the Terrapins over Ohio State in 2012. His big-play ability could burn the Buckeye secondary, as Diggs has already accrued 29 receptions for 398 yards and two scores in 2014, and what better way for the junior wideout to justify his decision than to beat Ohio State?
This game could be decided by whether or not the versatile C.J. Brown is able to lineup under center for the Terrapins, but I believe JT Barrett will get the job done either way, falling just shy of his third 300-yard game.
Buckeyes win 34-24
Cover Photo: Getty Images
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