Maryland vs. Ohio State: TV, radio, betting, what to watch

Maryland (5-0, 2-0 B1G) at No. 4 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 B1G)
When: Sat., Oct. 7 | 12:10 p.m. EST
Where: Ohio Stadium
Watch: FOX – Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
Listen: 105.7 FM (Balt) / 980 AM (DC) – Johnny Holliday, Steve Suter
Betting: Maryland +20, O/U 57 (as of 12 PM EST, 10/6)

Maryland will look to pull off its sixth consecutive win of the 2023 season when they head to Columbus to take on the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Maryland has never beaten Ohio State, though took them down to the wire in both 2018 and 2022 in College Park, but head coach Mike Locksley will look to change that on Saturday. Maryland is looking for its first win over a top-five team since 2004, along with its first road win over a top-five team since 1950, but what do the Terps need to do? We take a look at three keys to a Maryland upset over Ohio State in Columbus.

How does Maryland limit OSU WRs Marvin Harrison Jr & Emeka Egbuka?

Maryland’s passing attack has been among the best in the country with Taulia Tagovailoa showcasing his efficiency and seamless fit in Josh Gattis’s wrinkle of the Maryland offense. Right ahead of Maryland is, of course, Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have the best passing offense in the Big Ten (298.5) and the main reason has been the receiver duo of Marvin Harrison Jr and Emeka Egbuka. Harrison came into the season as the top receiver in college, with mock drafts having as high as the second overall pick. There was a scare against Notre Dame when his ankle got rolled on but came back into the game. Coming out of the bye week, head coach Ryan Day noted Harrison was a full-go in practice this week.

Harrison leads the Buckeyes with 336 receiving yards, good for fourth in the conference, in just four games. Dante Trader Jr. noted Harrison’s catch radius while head coach Mike Locksley noted he’s the best receiver the secondary will face this season.

Harrison Jr. won’t be alone, though, with Egbuka, also a potential first-round pick, leading the team with 19 catches. Both are great route runners that will find the open space in any defense. Add in tight end Cade Stover and receiver Julian Fleming, and Maryland is staring at its most explosive offense they’ve faced thus far.

How healthy cornerback Tarheeb Still truly is will be a big part in how the unit fares, while Ja’Quan Sheppard will get a chance to live up to his billing as a shutdown corner. With confidence in the starting safety tandem in Beau Brade and Dante Trader Jr., the cornerback room which had Corey Coley and several underclassmen fill into the rotation will need to stay sharp to limit the explosive plays.

A big part of disrupting Ohio State’s passing attack will be how the Terps’ front seven generates pressure in the trenches, putting pressure on first-year quarterback Kyle McCord in his sixth career start.

How does Maryland’s protection fare vs. Ohio State front seven?

While Ohio State sits second-to-last in sacks (5), the emergence of Tyleik Williams to go with Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau adds to the imposing front seven that Maryland fans have seen from the Buckeyes.

“I think you’ll see that when we studied them on defense, they’re dropping what we call P coverage where they’re dropping eight to cover spaces and a lot of that is to stop RPOs, to stop the down the field vertical passing game, and it affects your statistics,” Locksley said on Tuesday. “But let’s not get it twisted, 44 and 18, the Sawyer kid…those guys are pass rushers. The interior D line are really talented players. They’re well-coached. Larry Johnson does as good a job of developing players and their front four is the best front four we face. Statistically, it may not show it with the sacks, but they have done a good job of creating pressure. But I also think some of the defensive schematics that they do, maybe have added to their inability to get the stats that you look for, but they are effective.”

It’s important for the Terps to get their passing game going, as the running game hasn’t looked good the last two weeks. Ohio State gives up 106 yards on the ground and their defensive line might be the best in all of college football. JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer are two former top recruits from the 2021 class who have lived up to the hype. Tyleik Williams has the most tackles out of the unit with 21 and has scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. Some other names to know are Michael Hall and Ty Hamilton. Linebackers Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenburg are tied for the team lead in tackles with 25, with Chambers also having an interception.

There’s minimal doubt that the Buckeyes present a challenge to Maryland’s protection as the offensive line has been under the microscope over the offseason into the first month of 2023. So far, so good, but so far, Maryland hasn’t seen an Ohio State-level talent. Saturday will give DJ Glaze a chance to solidify himself as a 2024 NFL prospect selection, while Corey Bullock and Gottlieb Ayedze will get a chance to live up to the billing on the big stage. Quick and short throws will be ways to neutralize the Buckeyes’ front seven, but for Maryland to keep Ohio State honest and open the deep shots, keeping Taulia Tagovailoa upright is priority number one.

Win the turnover battle

This week will be a tough one for the Terp offense as Ohio State has the third-best defense in the Big Ten and is second-best against the pass.

Something must give for a Maryland offense that sits tied for 14th nationally in scoring (38.6) matching up against an Ohio State defense that sits second nationally in scoring defense (8.5).

The Buckeyes’ stout secondary is a big reason for their success as they sit second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally in yards allowed through the air (149), giving quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa his first big test this season.

Denzel Burke is a big reason for the Buckeyes’ defensive success and has one of Ohio State’s three interceptions as the team’s best corner. Safety Josh Proctor is another player that can do some damage if unaccounted for. Corners Jordan Hancock and Davison Igbinosun give the rotation quality depth as the defense has allowed just two passing touchdowns through four games.

We hit on the Buckeyes’ front seven, painting the picture for the slim margin of error for Maryland’s offense. For Maryland to have any chance on Saturday, they’ll need to win the turnover battle.

Maryland sits second nationally in turnover margin (+9) through five weeks, a welcomed sight after coming up with far too many near-momentum plays in 2022. So far in 2023, how Maryland has taken the football away has stuck out. A pair of redzone interceptions from Tarheeb Still, near-identical interceptions from Donnell Brown in consecutive weeks, along with a sideline interception from Glen Miller are among the several takeaways.

On the other end, the errant turnovers like the early interception against Charlotte and redzone interception against Michigan State can’t come up again on Saturday.

On the road against a top-five team, this will be the stat that determines whether Maryland can play for 60 minutes.

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