Picture this: It’s week two of college football. You’re a Maryland Terrapins fan. They’re 2-0 after crushing Syracuse 63-20. The AP poll ranks them as the No. 21 team in the country. The Terrapins are good. Life is good.
Fast-forward to week 11. The Terrapins are preparing to head to Columbus to face the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes, who are a 44-point favorite because your team has only won one game since that glorious week two, making them 3-6 and ranked third-to-last in the Big Ten. The Terrapins are no longer good. Life stinks.
On the bright side, Maryland’s victories have been big ones, beating teams by at least 41 points. They beat Howard 79-0, Syracuse 63-20, and Rutgers 48-7. However, they also lost to Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan by a combined score of 164-59.
Ohio State, on the other hand, has won each of its first eight games by 24 points or more with a combined score of 386-63. With the exception of Florida Atlantic’s 21 points, no team has scored more than 10 points against Ohio State’s No. 2 ranked defense.
So, will Maryland join the Owls as an exception? Uhhh, my gut—and Vegas—tells me “heck no.”
Maryland’s offense is ranked No. 86 nationally with 384.4 yards gained per game and No. 77 with 5.68 yards gained per play. Considering they’re about to face the Buckeyes’ defense who has been allowing teams an average of 224.3 yards per game and 3.59 yards per play, I don’t think this will be the game that gets the Terrapins back in motion.
Nonetheless, it is the Big Ten and there are always players that are going to make the Buckeyes fight for their shutout. While Maryland’s offense is average at best, they happen to have two of the best running backs in the conference.
The Terrapins have been splitting running back duties between sophomore RB Anthony McFarland Jr. and junior RB Javon Leake. Both McFarland and Leake lead the team in scoring with seven rushing touchdowns each, and they’ve combined for 1,1019 yards with 6.3 yards per carry.
The duo has also combined for 22 receptions for 171 yards, including a touchdown reception by McFarland.
Sophomore RB Anthony McFarland Jr.
Jersey Number: 5
Last season, McFarland led his team with 1,034 rushing yards. He ran for 298 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State, helping the Terrapins take the game into overtime before the Buckeyes ultimately slid by with a 52-51 win.
Anthony McFarland Jr. making Urban Meyer lose his mind is just wonderful. #Terps— Matt Owings (@MattOwings) November 17, 2018
This season, likely due to a nagging ankle injury, McFarland hasn’t put up quite the same numbers. His best game was when he ran for 132 yards on 26 attempts and a TD against Temple in week 3, and he hasn’t broke 100 yards in a game since. In total, he has 438 rushing yards on 90 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per rush.
Anthony McFarland Jr. explodes for 80 yards and the TD — the second-longest rush of his career. pic.twitter.com/G1ltG8wkYl— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 5, 2019
Junior RB Javon Leake
Jersey Number: 20
There’s no doubt that Leake has picked up some of McFarland’s slack this year. The junior leads the Terrapins with 581 yards on 75 carries, and leads the Big Ten with an average of 7.75 yards per carry.
Leake has also climbed the record books as Maryland’s kickoff returner. With a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown against Michigan—Maryland’s only points in its 38-7 loss— Leake tied Torrey Smith for most kickoff return touchdowns (3) in program history. Leake is No. 1 in the Big Ten in kickoff return touchdowns (2), kickoff return yards (590) and kickoff return yards per return (29.5).
Maryland's Javon Leake gets the second 97 yard kickoff return TD of the game. His HS 55m dash & long jump were both better than 75% of all B1G RB since 2010.pic.twitter.com/FmMEKUKyel— Brian Spilbeler (@CoachSpil) November 2, 2019
That about sums up Maryland’s biggest rushing threats. As for their passing offense, Maryland ranks No. 98 in passing yards per game (200.2), completing 145 of 276 attempts.
Their quarterbacks’ health—or lack-thereof—certainly isn’t helping. Starting quarterback Josh Jackson, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, suffered an ankle injury against Rutgers and missed the following two games. Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome slightly hyperextended his knee against Minnesota, and while he was cleared to practice the following Wednesday, he did not play against Michigan last Saturday.
While it’s still unknown who the starting quarterback will be on Saturday, Jackson will likely start against the Buckeyes. The junior has a 49.7 completion percentage, and has thrown for 1,065 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Mike Locksley has not named a starting quarterback for Maryland football vs. Ohio State.— Andy Kostka (@afkostka) November 5, 2019
It’ll be a game-time decision, with Josh Jackson and Tyrrell Pigrome taking most reps with first and second team. Locksley said the quarterback unit has been a work in progress
The wide receiver that you can expect to make life a little easier for Jackson is sophomore Dontay Demus Jr. He leads the team in receptions (32), receiving yards (491) and receiving touchdowns (4) and is averaging 15.3 yards per reception, including 62- and 80-yard touchdown passes.