The bye week came at a perfect time, in my estimation, for the Ohio State Buckeyes. After what has traditionally been a physically imposing match-up against the Wisconsin Badgers, Ohio State had a week off to rest and recuperate, getting mentally and physically ready for the crucial stretch run in November that will determine the B1G for the 2019 season.
The Maryland Terrapins, on the other hand, are probably eager for a respite from B1G play. After thrashing fellow B1G East Division member Rutgers at the beginning of October, Maryland has lost four in a row, and only the loss to Indiana was within a touchdown (34-28); every other loss (at Purdue, at Minnesota, and Michigan) have been by at least three touchdowns.
While I do not anticipate a close game, I believe there are three areas to keep an eye on when this second-to-last home game of the 2019 season kicks off at 12pm on FOX…
1. Maryland’s Running Game versus the Ohio State Defense – Last November 17th, Maryland was able to run for 331 yards and an average of 7.1 yards per carry against the Buckeyes, as Ohio State escaped in overtime at Maryland 52-51. While I do not anticipate a return to such horrific results, this will be the area I will be fixated upon, as the latter November opponents Ohio State faces in Penn State and at Michigan will try their best to run on the Buckeyes. Nothing better than seeing how the defense is shaping up for the big games on the horizon.
2. The Battle Of Special Teams – Matt Barnes formerly coached Maryland’s special teams, and his former squad gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff to Michigan last weekend. Matt Barnes’ current employer suffered a partial punt block against Wisconsin, and in the words of Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, “We’re not going to let that happen again.”. Look for marked special teams improvement on both teams this weekend.
3. The Return Of Keandre Jones – Former Ohio State linebacker and current Maryland Terrapins linebacker Keandre Jones makes his homecoming return to face his former teammates. Jones’ performance has not escaped the eyes of his former coaches, as Ryan Day stated, “It jumps off the film. He seems like one of the leaders out there.”. While I anticipate Maryland to wind up on the losing side of the ledger, how Jones performs in front of the coaches, players, and fans he used to suit up for will be interesting. Nothing like getting a chance to show that perhaps more playing time was warranted while in Columbus.
Bonus: How Many Backup Ohio State Players Will Get Considerable Playing Time Against Maryland?
Not that I expect Coach Day to take my advice, but when/if the score becomes comfortably in the favor of the Buckeyes, will Coach Day empty the bench and play the redshirt freshmen and true freshmen who are not in jeopardy of losing their year of eligibility? Tom Orr has been keeping a close eye on which Buckeyes have played in 2019, and which players are on the cusp of losing a redshirt year. Why not play the true freshmen against Maryland, if the score has already been decided in favor of Ohio State?