The Ohio State football season will be here before you know it, and even if you’ve only been paying semi-close attention this offseason, you’re probably aware of the major storylines with the program. This is going to be an exceptionally young, but talented and athletic team. There’s a lack of proven production at wideout, running back, and defensive back. They return the best QB in the conference, and should at least compete for a Big Ten title.
But you may not know a lot about the specific teams on Ohio State’s schedule. We’ll get into a lot more detail before the actual games, but you may want a primer so you can sound smart at the bar, or at the barbecue, or in the grocery store checkout line.
So take a look at Ohio State’s opponents this year. Next up, my hometown team, Maryland.
What was the deal with Maryland last year?
Everything was bad. Did the Terps get demolished by a MAC team, at home? Sure did. They won just a single game after the third week of the season. They were crushed by virtually every good team they played outside of USF. Then they fired Randy Edsall, and watched Ohio State pick apart what projected to be a very promising recruiting class.
Maryland has a new coach, former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. They have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. But the recent past has not been kind to the Terps. What about the present?
Is Maryland’s offense gonna be any good?
There are legitimately things to like about Maryland’s offense. The Terps have quietly recruited very well along the offensive line, paced by five-star Damian Prince. It’s going to be a very young unit and may not gel this year, but they may soon. The Terps also return almost every skill position player, including speedster wideout Taivon Jacobs, and running backs Wes Brown and former Virginia Tech Hokie Trey Edmunds. The Terps quietly had a pretty explosive running game last season, and could have one again.
The big problem? Maryland doesn’t have a quarterback. Nobody threw more interceptions last year than Maryland, and their two returning options at QB, Perry Hills (13 picks) and Caleb Rowe (15 picks), did nothing to inspire any level of confidence. Under new OC Walt Bell, Maryland should be running the dang ball more often, including with Hills and Rowe, and some regression with turnovers seems likely, but expecting either QB (and it appears Hills will get first crack) to turn out an efficient passing game seems like too much to ask.
What about Maryland’s defense?
Maryland’s rushing defense was pretty good last season, and thanks to Durkin, some beef up front, and linebacker talents like Jermaine Carter, it should probably be pretty good again. But now that Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson are gone, it’s not clear where the pass rush is going to come from. And since Maryland’s secondary is awfully thin outside of Will Likely, that’s not a promising sign.
The way to beat the Terps this year is probably to attack their secondary, which is likely due for a regression. Not every team in the Big Ten will have the personnel to do that, and with a stout running defense, Maryland could be in some Big Ten games. But if somebody can air it out, it might get ugly.
What’s Maryland and Ohio State’s all-time record like?
Ohio State is undefeated against Maryland (2-0), and neither game was especially close.
Is Maryland gonna be any good this year?
There is a pathway for Maryland to become good, relatively soon. There’s plenty of four-star-ish talent along the offensive line, wideouts, and a talent infusion is coming along the defensive line. Maryland’s coaching staff is full of either experienced ex-head coaches, or very intriguing young options. They should be fun, which is more than you can say about Maryland football recently.
But they don’t have a great option at QB. They’ve had horrible turnover and injury luck, and their secondary and pass rush look vulnerable for this season. Their schedule sets up easily enough that a 6-6 record and a bowl trip is on the table, but I wouldn’t bet any higher than that ... and personally, I think 4 or 5 wins are more likely.
How worried should Ohio State fans be about this game?
The only real worry, in my opinion, is that the Buckeyes are looking ahead to the Michigan games left on the schedule and come out emotionally flat. There’s a ton of Ohio State fans in the DC area and the Terps won’t have much of a home field advantage. The Buckeyes have talent superiority at every position, and have the personnel to exploit Maryland’s weaknesses pretty well. This is a game where Ohio State will likely be heavily favored, and while Maryland might make it interesting at spots, the Buckeyes should certainly win.