Behind Enemy Lines: Maryland Football Set to Host Second-Ranked Ohio State

Maryland will welcome Ohio State back in College Park for the first time since 2018 as head coach Mike Locksley and the Terps look to pull off the upset in what should be a filled SECU Stadium. The Buckeyes checked back in at second in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings and with next year’s matchup against Michigan looming, could Maryland catch Ohio State in a trap game? To learn more about the Buckeyes, their explosive offense and what to watch on defense, we connected with Dan Hope, deputy editor at Eleven Warriors, to learn more.

1. With Henderson out last week and Miyan Williams getting carted off the field last week, how do you see the running back room shaping out come Saturday afternoon?

I’d be surprised if Miyan Williams was able to play this week, but Ryan Day has said he thinks TreVeyon Henderson will be available. As long as Henderson is healthy enough to play, I think he will start the game. With the big game against Michigan looming next week, though, I won’t be surprised if the Buckeyes keep Henderson on a pitch count, which could mean a heavy workload for some combination of Dallan Hayden, Chip Trayanum (depending on his health, as he was also out last week) and hybrid running back/receiver Xavier Johnson.

2. The Buckeyes’ offense has seemed unstoppable this season. Are there any weaknesses in the offense that the Terps defense could potentially capitalize off of?
Ohio State has been inconsistent in the running game, particularly in short-yardage situations. Barring massive wind gusts at Northwestern, no one has been able to stop the Buckeyes’ passing attack for a full game. The teams who have been able to stay competitive with Ohio State, though, are the teams who have been able to stop the run and force the Buckeyes to settle for field goals or punt after failing to convert on third downs.
3. The Terps offense has really struggled as of late. With the Buckeyes being a top 10 defense, do you see the Terps offense continuing their rough patch or can you see the Terps offense turning it around and putting some points on the board on Saturday and why?
If Maryland can get its passing game back on track, I could see the Terrapins making the big plays through the air on Saturday. Ohio State’s passing defense has faced few real tests this season; Maryland has averaged more passing yards per game than any team the Buckeyes have played except Penn State, and the Nittany Lions threw for 371 yards and scored 31 points against Ohio State. I’d be surprised if Maryland hit either of those marks, but I do think the Buckeyes’ defense is a little more vulnerable than the statistics indicate.
4. Outside of the Northwestern game and the Notre Dame game, the Buckeyes have put up at least 44 points in every game. Do you see that continuing on Saturday and why?
Considering the Buckeyes have scored at least 49 points every time they’ve played Maryland, I like their chances of scoring at least 44 points on Saturday. They’ve already hit that number against a trio of teams in Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin who are better defensively than Maryland, and I don’t see the Terrapins having a consistent answer for C.J. Stroud, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Ohio State’s passing attack.
5. The last time the Buckeyes visited College Park, the game went to overtime and the Terps were a two-point conversion away from pulling off the upset. What will the Buckeyes need to do differently to make sure the Terps don’t make it another close game?
For one, they’ll need to play much better defense – which I think they will, as this year’s defense is substantially better than the one Ohio State brought to Maryland in 2018. Secondly, the Buckeyes have to avoid the trap of looking past Maryland and ahead to next week’s game against Michigan, which I certainly think played a part in that game four years ago, which was played in the exact same spot on the calendar on this year’s game. If Maryland challenges for an upset on Saturday, it will be because the Terrapins play their absolute best football and the Buckeyes aren’t as prepared as they should be.
6. What is your score prediction for the game and why?
I’m going with the Buckeyes to barely cover the 27.5-point spread in a 45-17 win. I won’t be shocked if this game ends up being closer because of the aforementioned possibility of Ohio State looking ahead, but on paper, this game should be another blowout win for the Buckeyes. Ohio State is the better team on both sides of the ball, and Maryland’s offensive performance over the past two weeks doesn’t give me much reason to believe the Terps will score more than two or three times.
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