(20) Ohio State (3-1) at Maryland (4-1)
Saturday, October 4, 12 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins will play their first Big Ten Conference home game this Saturday, as the 20th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes come to Byrd Stadium.
Urban Meyer's Ohio State club has won three of its first four games, all against non-conference foes. The latest was a 50-28 triumph over Cincinnati, giving the team a massive 40-game winning streak over intrastate rivals. While this is their first-ever clash with Maryland, the Buckeyes have won 16 straight Big Ten regular-season bouts. The conference record for consecutive wins is 20, set by Ohio State from 2005-07.
After 62 years as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland is in its first as a member of the Big Ten. The Terrapins are under the tutelage of fourth-year head coach Randy Edsall, and they are off to a 4-1 start. The squad won its first-ever Big Ten game last weekend in a 37-15 final at Indiana, marking Maryland's fifth straight road win dating back to last season.
Led by redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, the Ohio State offense was firing on all cylinders last week against Cincinnati, as the team tied an NCAA record with 45 first downs while amassing more than 700 yards (710) for the third time in program history. Barrett accounted for 409 yards (330 passing, 79 rushing) with four touchdown passes, and he has now thrown for at least 300 yards in back-to-back games -- the first time that's happened at Ohio State since Troy Smith turned the trick back in 2005.
Meyer likes what his young quarterback has done to this point in the campaign.
"J.T. continues to be a very good distributor, completing a high percentage of his balls, and really we're giving him more and more responsibility about getting us in the right play, which is a big part of what the quarterback's expected to do."
He continued, "I love J.T. He's fun to coach. He's a guy that has a great demeanor on the sideline. He's a student of the game. He has a great relationship with his coordinator and position coach. He's a product of those around him."
Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott had a breakout game against the Bearcats, rushing for 182 yards and a score, while adding five receptions for 51 yards. Dontre Wilson was the team's leading receiver with six grabs for 71 yards and a TD, and Devin Smith made the most of his four catches as two of them resulted in TDs.
The Buckeyes stood tall against the run last week, allowing a mere 70 rushing yards to the Bearcats, who pretty much abandoned the run after falling behind 23-7 in the opening quarter. UC did manage to generate 352 yards and four TDs through the air, but the visitors converted a mere 4-of-11 third-down chance and held possession of the ball for only 18:04. Vonn Bell was high man on the Ohio State defense, as he logged seven tackles. The team as a whole was credited with just one TLF, that being a sack recorded by Joey Bosa, and the Buckeyes failed to force a turnover.
Ohio State is among the top-five teams in the Big Ten in scoring (42.8 ppg), rushing (241.5 ypg), passing (279.8 ypg) and total offense (521.5 ypg). Barrett, who leads the league in total offense (323.0 ypg), is a 63.6 percent passer, who has thrown for 1,087 yards and a conference-best 13 TDs. Elliott is currently ranked eighth in the league with an 80.8 ypg average, while Smith checks in at No. 9 with 69.5 ypg receiving.
Defensively, the Buckeyes sit a bit further down in the conference rankings, but still they have put forth impressive efforts in several games. Opponents are scoring 20 ppg against them, behind typical offensive outputs of 153 ypg on the ground and 162.2 ypg through the air -- the latter figure ranking OSU atop the Big Ten. However, the unit is tied for last in the league in sacks (nine), and sits in the lower half with regard to turnover margin (-0.25). Joshua Perry paces the unit with 32 tackles.
Maryland's quarterbacks were also the stars of last week's historic win at Indiana, as starter C.J. Brown threw for a TD and ran for another, while backup Caleb Rowe tossed a pair of scoring strikes. The duo combined to go 22- of-33 for 361 yards, making 100-yard receivers of both Deon Long (10 receptions, 108 yards) and Stefon Diggs (six receptions, 112 yards, TD). The Terps finished with only 123 rushing yards, compared to 206 for the Hoosiers.
The Maryland defense held Indiana to season-lows in points (15) and total offense (332). The Terrapins defended the pass well in allowing only 14-of-37 attempts to be completed, totaling a mere 126 yards. Cole Farrand was a man possessed, tallying 19 tackles (most in the Big Ten this season), while the unit as a whole was credited with three sacks. Farrand was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. William Likely logged the only takeaway for the Terps with his third interception of the season.
Maryland is an upper-tier club in the Big Ten in terms of scoring (36.8 ppg), passing (262.4 ypg) and total offense (417.6 ypg), but needs to produce more in the run game (155.2 ypg) and play better on defense (434.8 ypg) to be considered one of the elite teams in the conference. Brown ranks 10th in the league with an average of 199.2 passing ypg, and he has thrown seven TD passes against only three INTs. Diggs and Long have combined for 50 catches, 648 yards and three scores, while Brown serves as the team's leading rusher with 266 yards and five TDs.
The Terps have been rather lax against the run this year, yielding just over 200 ypg. They are also one of the most penalized teams in the league, but do rank No. 1 in red-zone defense (.588). Sean Davis, Likely and L.A. Goree have all accumulated more than 30 tackles, while Andre Monroe has three of the team's 11 sacks.
There is going to be a lot of excitement in College Park this weekend, and you can bet the Terps aren't going to be intimidated by the big, bad Buckeyes. That said, Ohio State is the better all-around team, and while it won't be easy, expect the visitors to prevail nonetheless.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 31, Maryland 23
10/01 10:37:37 ET