Maryland faces No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, looking to get to pull a major upset at a crucial juncture in the season and possibly in the program’s history.
Here are 5 things you need to know.
1) Randy Edsall’s final game at Maryland?
With reports saying that the dismissal of head coach Randy Edsall is imminent, Saturday’s game vs. Ohio State could be his final game on the sidelines as the coach of the Terrapins.
A statement released by the program affirmed the fact that Edsall would be the coach Saturday, but it did not refute what has been reported and it did not address his future beyond Saturday’s game.
2) Starting Maryland QB still a mystery
Edsall said that a change would likely be made after senior quarterback Caleb Rowe threw three interceptions in last week’s loss to Michigan. Whether it be gamesmanship, a pure need for further evaluation, or both, Edsall has maintained that a starter would not be named until game time on Saturday.
But perhaps we have at least a hint. Junior Perry Hills, who started the first two games of the season before being benched in favor of Rowe, was named a captain for Saturday’s game.
A captain, but not assuredly the starter.
3) A running back unlike many others
Maryland has faced quality running backs during the early part of the season, but Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is something else entirely. Elliott has rushed for 100 or more yards in 10 straight games, including when he went over 200 yards in four of those games.
He is a powerful downhill runner who often gains his biggest chunks of yards after first contact is made.
And Maryland is facing him at their most vulnerable time. Two starters in the front seven have gone down with season-ending injuries over the past two weeks and a converted defensive back, Denzel Conyers, will be in the rotation as a backup to fill in.
If they are not careful, 300 yards by Elliott alone could be within reach.
4) Whichever OSU QB, same threat
Whether Maryland sees more of Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett, they’ll have the same issues against the Buckeyes. The Terrapins do not defend the spread offense well and the depth of talent on the Ohio State roster is matched in few places around the country.
Barrett may be more of a threat to run, but Jones can take off if there is open space in front of him. Added to that, Jones it tougher to bring down.
Keep a close eye on the secondary. Cornerback Sean Davis was burned badly against Bowling Green’s spread. The hope is that there is not a repeat of that on Saturday.
5) Staying competitive
This has been the biggest problem for Maryland against big-time schools over the past few seasons. Simple losses to superior teams turn into runaway losses where the team is rarely competitive (2013 Florida State, 2014 Wisconsin, 2015 West Virginia).
There is the same threat vs. Ohio State.
Stalled Maryland offensive drives keep the defense on the field for longer. The Ohio State offense works that defense and scores, then another stalled drive by the Maryland offense puts the defense back out there.
The cycle continues and that is how final scores like 45-6 and 28-0 can happen.