Ohio State Football: Buckeyes set for trap game at home vs. Terps?


Rolling over their last 3 opponents by a combined 148-28 margin, No. 10 Ohio State sets sights on Maryland. While the Buckeyes steamrolled the Terrapins last season, the 2017 pairing seems much more daunting.

This time last season if I told you there was a shot that Maryland could beat this year’s Ohio State football team at home you would have exiled me to Michigan. But maybe now you won’t.

With a 3-1 record including wins over a solid Texas team, lowly Towson and a 31-24 victory over Minnesota to open conference play, the Terrapins look tougher than they have in recent years. With an average of 233.5 rushing yards (No. 24 in the NCAA) and 37.3 points (No. 30) per contest, Maryland’s got a scary offense. 

Part of that running success is junior runner Ty Johnson. On just 46 carries this season, Johnson has rushed for 411 yards (team high) and 4 touchdowns. Averaging 8.9 yards per carry puts his average per touch at the No. 7 spot in college football.

However, in 2016 Johnson found little-to-no success against the Buckeyes front. On 8 carries, Johnson only found 21 yards of Buckeye turf in their 62-3 crushing loss.

If the defensive front holds Johnson to under 40 yards, the Buckeyes are in good shape. In the last two seasons, the Terrapins are 2-6 when Johnson rushes for less than 40 yards. This has a lot to do with the lack of a clear-cut quarterback.

Currently running with what was the fourth-string sophomore Max Bortenschlager, the Terps send an inexperienced quarterback against a secondary who will thrive off turnovers. Bortenschlager only has 56 college tosses so far, but he threw two INTs in a 38-10 loss to UCF, a team that I should note is looking more and more like a contender.

On the other hand, you have to credit the sophomore with a solid game in Maryland’s win over Minnesota last week. Completing 18-of-28 passes, 0 INTs and 2 TDs against a Big 10 team is impressive. The Buckeyes defense is stingier, but not invincible.

Despite a Solid Terrapin Offense, JT Barrett & Company can wash away any doubt

The Maryland defense isn’t exactly daunting at all. Allowing 131.8 yards a game versus the run isn’t going to work if the Terps plan on stopping Ohio State.

JK Dobbins is off-to-the-races with 576 yards through the first five games. JT Barrett is averaging 4.8 yards per rush with 252 yards to his credit. Even utility back Demario McCall found rushing success when he took 11 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown last Saturday.

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The Ohio State football team that runs the ball so well is still lacking any significant playing time from 2016 team rushing leader Mike Weber Jr.  Weber, who has just 86 yards on 17 touches is getting most of his looks at the goal line.

His 3 TDs were punch-em-in’s against Rutgers last week, when he had a season high in touches (10) and yards (44). This may be a sign of things to come as his hamstring injury heals completely and Urban Meyer integrates the running back into a greater offensive role.

However, as we’ve seen so far this season, if the passing game is cooking Maryland might as well not come into the kitchen. Against Rutgers, JT Barrett simply shredded the inferior opponent.

Barrett went 14-of-22 for 275 yards with three touchdown passes but it never looked like the Scarlet Knights stood a chance against the senior quarterback’s arm.

Barrett hit receivers in stride and rarely missed his shots, something he’d struggled with dating back to 2016.

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Continued success by Barrett means the Buckeyes win, plain and simple. However, as a whole unit, an offense that’s prone to droughts must keep the well full. Otherwise the No. 10 Buckeyes are on upset alert against a tough-out Maryland team.