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Maryland goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

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Maryland goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Relentlessly zipping up and down the field, ninth-ranked Ohio State and upstart Maryland were racking up yards and points at a dizzying pace.

Finally, the Terrapins were presented with the chance to end it -- one way or another.

A gutsy decision by Maryland interim coach Matt Canada did not achieve the desired results, and the Buckeyes avoided one of the most stunning upsets in this college football season by squeezing out a 52-51 victory in overtime on Saturday.

After a 5-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Haskins gave the Buckeyes a seven-point lead to start overtime, Tayon Fleet-Davis scored for the Terrapins. Canada opted to keep his offense on the field to attempt a 2-point conversion, and Tyrrell Pigrome's pass to Jeshaun Jones was off target .

"It was a gut call," Canada said. "I felt like they were scoring, we were scoring. We had the ball, we had to make one play to win. Obviously it didn't work. I wasn't trying to be aggressive. I was just trying to win."

After watching his defense allow 535 yards and seven touchdowns, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer understood why Canada opted to win it right there.

"I would have probably done the same thing if I was their coach, the way they were gaining yards on us," Meyer said. "I'm relieved we won."

Favored by 14 points, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) trailed by two touchdowns in the third quarter and 45-38 with under two minutes left before rallying.

The victory kept the Buckeyes in the hunt for the Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State concludes the regular season next week in a game against Michigan that will decide the Big Ten East winner.

After describing the performance of his defense as "alarming," Meyer said, "But we won. Let's go back to work and get ready for next week."

The Buckeyes never led until overtime against the gritty Terrapins (5-6, 3-5), who have made the most of a season dedicated to teammate Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June. The players teamed together under the guidance of Canada, who maintained his role of offensive coordinator after taking over for head coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave in August, reinstated on Oct. 30 and fired on Oct. 31.

On this day, the Terps traded blows with one of the best teams in the nation, and stuck in it to the end.

"I wish we had been a little bit better on the last play," Canada said. "It's a tough day. We put a lot into this."

Pigrome was making his first start of the season after Kasim Hill sustained a season-ending knee injury last week. He went 6 for 13 for 181 yards.

Haskins ran for three touchdowns and was 28 for 38 for 405 yards and three TDs. Ohio State finished with a whopping 688 yards, including 203 on the ground by J.K. Dobbins.

All that offense meant nothing until Pigrome's pass went about six inches wide of his intended target.

"For us to stop them on a 2-point conversion, a whole bunch of emotions just came out of me," Haskins said. "All that grit, all that adversity we faced in this game, to come back on top just meant everything for myself and my teammates."

Maryland freshman Anthony McFarland had touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards in the first quarter and finished with 298 yards rushing -- seven short of the school's single-game record.

The Terps took a 45-38 lead when Chigoziem Okonkwo recovered a fumble by McFarland in the end zone with 1:41 left. Haskins then orchestrated a 50-yard, beat-the-clock drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victory with 40 seconds remaining.

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Maryland overcomes sloppy start, rally past Rhode Island

Maryland overcomes sloppy start, rally past Rhode Island

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Jalen Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Anthony Cowan Jr. scored all 14 of his points in the second half and turnover-prone No. 7 Maryland overcame a sloppy start and a double-digit deficit, beating Rhode Island 73-55 on Saturday night.

Eric Ayala added 13 points and Aaron Wiggins (13 points, 13 rebounds) posted his first career double-double for the Terrapins, who trailed 24-12 with eight minutes left in the first half, but ultimately breezed to a 2-0 start with a dominant second half.

Jeff Dowtin led the Rams (1-1) with 14 points.

Maryland committed 14 of its 17 turnovers in the first half, allowing Rhode Island to lead for more than 18 minutes. But Wiggins' 3-pointer less than a minute before the break secured the Terps a 35-32 lead.

While the Rams briefly tied it early in the second half, Maryland controlled the final 20 minutes. Cowan scored nine points in a row for the Terps during one stretch, and his layup with 10:52 to go gave Maryland its first double-digit lead at 53-42. Rhode Island never got any closer.

Maryland improved to 4-1 all-time against the Rams, claiming the teams' first meeting since 2015.

BIG PICTURE

Rhode Island: The Rams were picked fourth in the Atlantic 10, and their first-half showing at Maryland suggests they could be a handful for anyone in their conference. The same is true of their ambitious nonconference schedule, which includes Alabama, Louisiana State, Providence and West Virginia.

Maryland: Turnovers have haunted the Terps in recent years, and the return of that problem after committing only eight in Tuesday's season opener against Holy Cross is a concern. Expect that to be a focus in the coming week as Maryland goes seven days between games.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

With a pair of victories in the season's first week, Maryland is unlikely to drop when the next poll is released Monday.

UP NEXT

Rhode Island: The Rams face their second consecutive power conference opponent Friday when they host Alabama.

Maryland: The Terps' season-opening five-game homestand continues Nov. 16 against Oakland.

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Maryland at Minnesota: Can the Terps end Minnesota’s undefeated season?

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Maryland at Minnesota: Can the Terps end Minnesota’s undefeated season?

Maryland (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) will look to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday against a Minnesota team (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) that has yet to lose a game this season and is currently ranked 17th in the nation. The game is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Here are five things to know for Saturday’s game.

Jackson and McFarland are expected to return

Quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. have both been dealing with high-ankle sprains, but both are expected to return Saturday.

Jackson has not played since suffering the injury against Rutgers on Oct. 5. He provides more of passing threat than backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, who is much better on the ground than through the air.

McFarland suffered his injury in the game against Temple but played through it until he was forced to miss last game against Indiana. McFarland was clearly limited by the injury. After rushing for 132 yards against the Owls, he managed just 115 yards on 20 carries in his next three games.

Maryland’s pass defense is awful

There’s no real way to sugarcoat this. The Terps have really struggled to defend the pass this season and have the worst pass defense in the Big Ten. Maryland is giving up up 287.4 yards per game through the air. Not only is that the most in the conference, but it also ranks 118th nationally. Only six Power 5 conference teams are averaging more.

A thin secondary plus an emphasis on pressuring the quarterback often leaves the defense vulnerable against the pass. You could accept that if the defense was at least getting good pressure on the quarterback, but it’s not. In the last five games, the Terps have managed six sacks, and three of those six came against Rutgers.

The good news is that the Golden Gophers may not have the weapons to exploit Maryland’s defense. Quarterback Tanner Morgan is leading a middle-of-the-pack pass offense that is averaging 231.9 yards per game, good for 8th in the Big Ten. Receiver Tyler Johnson is always a threat to score, however, with 26 career touchdown receptions, the second-most in school history.

The key for both offenses will be running the ball

Even with Jackson back neither offense is all that formidable through the air. This game is going to be decided largely on what each offense can do on the ground. That is one aspect in which the Terps could have an edge.

Maryland is averaging 207.1 yards per game on the ground over Minnesota’s 187.9. The Golden Gophers could also be without linebacker Kamal Martin who is the team’s leading tackler. He is considered a game-time decision.

While the Terps have been better running the football on the season, Minnesota is really starting to hit its stride. In the past three games, the Gophers have managed 332 rushing yards against Illinois, 322 rushing yards against Nebraska and 198 rushing yards against Rutgers. Those are three big games against three conference opponents (yes, Rutgers still counts).

Maryland beat an undefeated Minnesota last year

Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 record last season before the Terps handed the Gophers their first loss.

Winning seven straight is an accomplishment, to be sure. Maryland is a team that routinely loses games it is not supposed to, so you have to applaud the Gophers for their hot start. Having said that, we still don’ really know how good this Minnesota team without any big wins on their resume. The AP voters are skeptical as well, evidenced by the fact that a 7-0 Power 5 team is still ranked outside of the top 15. 

The Gophers’ best win is a 34-7 blowout over Nebraska, but Minnesota also has a seven-point win over Sout Dakota State and three-point wins over Fresno State and Georgia Southern.

There does not appear to be any aspect of the game in which Minnesota is statistically dominant. This is just a team that is average to pretty good in multiple aspects and has taken advantage of a soft schedule. This will be a tough game for Maryland, but it is not quite as difficult as their 7-0 record would make you believe.

Minnesota may be looking past the Terps

Minnesota’s schedule has been soft up to this point, but it is about to get a whole lot harder. The next game on the schedule after Maryland is Penn State followed by a trip to Iowa. Minnesota then goes to Northwestern and will finish the season hosting Wisconsin in the battle for Paul Bunyon’s Ax.

The Gophers will get a bye week before hosting Penn State, but it would not be surprising if the minds of the players are not squarely focused on a 3-4 Maryland team this week.

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