Week 6 Big Ten: Ohio State at Maryland Preview

    Ohio State (3-1) at Maryland (4-1) Oct. 4, 12:00, ABC Here’s The Deal: Welcome to the Big Ten, Maryland. Indiana was a nice appetizer, and now comes the

    October 3, 2014

    Ohio State (3-1) at Maryland (4-1) Oct. 4, 12:00, ABC 

    Here’s The Deal: Welcome to the Big Ten, Maryland. Indiana was a nice appetizer, and now comes the main course with the program’s first ever meeting against Ohio State in one of the biggest home dates in a long, long time. The offense has been fun, the defense has quietly been fantastic, and there but for a few late plays against West Virginia, this would be a 5-0 team and one of the big national stories. It’s going to be a fight with road games at Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan still to deal with along with the home games against Iowa and Michigan State. The Terps started out 5-1 last year, but fell off the map going 2-5 the rest of the way. Will this be the beginning of another bad run, or will this be a We’re Here, Big Ten, Deal With Us moment?

    The Buckeyes are used to big games and used to being the huge moment on a home schedule, and now it seems like things are starting to work. After an ugly win over Navy, and a puzzling gack against Virginia Tech, everything came together in two great performances against Kent State and Cincinnati, beating both by a combined score of 116 to 28. The schedule isn’t that bad for the next several weeks after this with the Michigan State game a month away, but dealing with the Terps will be hard enough. This is a dangerous Maryland team with the talent and experience to pull off the upset and send Ohio State into a panic week. 

    Why Ohio State Might Win: The passing game has kicked in and is starting to work really, really well. J.T. Barrett can run, but he isn’t Braxton Miller when he takes off. However, he’s a better, more promising passer, and it shows hitting 72% of his passes or more in three of the four games, bombing away for 312 yards against Kent State and Cincinnati for 330 yards with ten scores and a pick over the last two games. When he’s not on his back like he was against Virginia Tech, he has the arm and the smarts to make the right reads and get the O going. If the passing game isn’t flying, the running attack can take over like it did against the Bearcats, pounding away for 380 yards for close to six yards per pop. Syracuse hit the Terps for 370 yards against a front seven that’s good, but not special. 

    Why Maryland Might Win: The Terp secondary slowed down the Indiana offensive machine keeping the passing game to 26 yards with a pick. West Virginia’s Clint Trickett went ballistic with 511 yards and four scores, but that’s been it – Maryland hasn’t allowed a touchdown pass to anyone else. The pass rush isn’t going to rival Virginia Tech’s but it’s good enough to bother Barrett and make him hurry a bit. Offensively, the Terps have to commit a bit to the ground game. Virginia Tech tried with little luck, and Kent State and Cincinnati weren’t even close. Maryland can’t be afraid to mix things up. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Ohio State has used several different backs to try to replace Carlos Hyde, and Barrett has been a major factor, but it’s 225-pound sophomore Ezekiel Elliott who’s starting to take over. He ran just 27 in the first three games, but he was effective when given the shot. Against Cincinnati, he became unstoppable running 28 times for 182 yards and a score. OSU has to control the ball and the clock on the road, and Elliott can do that. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Maryland will give Ohio State all it can handle, even with Maryland QB C.J. Brown banged up. The passing game will fly, the defense will get to Barrett, and it’s going to be a dogfight from the start. But Barrett will come up with one big pass play in the second half, and the defense will clamp down when it absolutely has to. 

    Prediction: Ohio State 41 … Maryland 30 
    Line: Ohio State -7.5 o/u: 64 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 3.5  

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