Fresh off a dominating 62-3 victory over Nebraska, Ohio State travels to College Park, Maryland, to take on the 5-4 Maryland Terrapins. Maryland, led by first-year head coach D.J. Durkin, is coming home after two straight losses, one of which was to That Team Up North by a score of 59-3.
Durkin faced former boss Jim Harbaugh last week in Ann Arbor, and now gets to face former boss Urban Meyer this week. When asked about facing Durkin, Meyer replied, “We’re all professionals. We all coach our teams and move on.”. Considering the way Meyer and Ohio State responded earlier this season when facing Rutgers and Chris Ash, Durkin probably realizes that Meyer is not going to take his foot off the gas, no matter their previous professional coaching relationship.
Below are three areas I will be focusing upon when the game begins at 3:30pm EST on ESPN…
- Will Ohio State Continue Building Its Deep Passing Game? It was tremendously gratifying to see J.T. Barrett connect with Curtis Samuel on a 75 yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the second half versus Nebraska. While throwing deep is a lower percentage completion play, the mere threat of it within the Ohio State offense will force opposing defenses to play their safeties back, thus opening up the middle of the field for other playmakers within the Ohio State offense, such as K.J. Hill, Parris Campbell, and Marcus Baugh.
- Curtis Samuel As Ohio State’s Punt Returner ~ No disrespect to Dontre Wilson, but every time Wilson was back awaiting a punt, it was the very definition of anxious. Urban Meyer recognized a change should be made to Samuel. I wonder if anyone else besides Samuel will get opportunities against Maryland.
- Playing Time For Joe Burrow ~ With such a commanding lead against Nebraska, J.T. Barrett was done after three quarters, giving backup quarterback Joe Burrow an opportunity to play for the fourth quarter. As trivial as this may sound, the more playing time Burrow is given, the greater the possibility that the Ohio State coaching staff will be able to use its full playbook, if J.T. Barrett is unable to play down the stretch run.
Prediction: Maryland is coming off two tough losses, and injuries are starting to mount across their roster. D.J. Durkin is going to make the Terrapins more competitive, especially with players such as RB Lorenzo Harrison. Maryland is going to do their very best to keep pace with the Buckeyes, but right now, the Terrapins just do not have the same level of depth or speed that the Buckeyes have. I am calling it Ohio State 35, Maryland 10.