Heading into this season, I freely admit that I looked at this Maryland game as one of the easier opponents Ohio State would face in 2018. After all, here are the results from when Ohio State and Maryland have faced since 2014.
2014 – Ohio State 52, Maryland 24
2015 – Ohio State 49, Maryland 28
2016 – Ohio State 62, Maryland 3
2017 – Ohio State 62, Maryland 14
That comes out to average Ohio State 56, Maryland 17. While Ohio State has shown the ability to blow out opponents in 2018, it would be tremendously presumptuous to believe that Ohio State is going to once again emerge as an offensive juggernaut, especially when it has been more of a methodical work in progress. (Hey, I had to work in some kind of angle in honor of the late Stan Lee, RIP. Excelsior).
Maryland is sitting on the precipice (5-5) of being bowl-eligible, with only this home game against Ohio State and a road trip to Penn State next week to allow the Terrapins to get to the coveted six-win mark. While Maryland has tried to navigate the never-ending currents of negative attention that has covered the program since the season began, interim head coach Matt Canada has been able to keep Maryland competitive throughout most of their contests.
Below are three areas I will be focusing upon when Ohio State and Maryland kick off at 12pm on ABC.
Maryland RB Anthony McFarland
The diminutive 5’8″, 193-pound running back rushed for 210 yards at Indiana last week. While Maryland has been using a committee approach for most of the season, it would not be surprising to see McFarland get the bulk of the carries against Ohio State. For an OSU defense coming off a dominating performance against Michigan State (54 yards allowed on the ground), shutting down McFarland would be a welcome sight.
Maryland QB Tyrrell Pigrome
Pigrome was thrust into action last week against Indiana due to the injury sustained by starting quarterback Kasim Hill. With Hill out for the season, Pigrome will be the starter. He is coming off a solid 10-13 for 146 yards and 1 touchdown against Indiana. Pigrome is also averaging 4.4 yards per carry as a runner, so it may be prudent to assign a linebacker as a spy to prevent big gains, especially on third down.
Maryland LB Tre Watson
The former Illinois linebacker is having a tremendous season at Maryland, especially in the turnover department. Watson is Maryland’s leading tackler (98 tackles) and is leading the B1G in interceptions with five, even taking one back for a pick-six. For an Ohio State team that has been somewhat predictable with screen passes, this could be the kind of opportunity for Watson to make a big play against the Buckeyes.