2023 Ohio State University
The Buckeyes of Ohio State have not lost a regular season game following a bye week since 2005 when they lost 17-10 to eventual Big Ten Champions Penn State. Since then it has been 17-consecutive victories following a week off. They will look to keep that streak alive again this weekend as they get set to play host to the undefeated Maryland Terrapins. The Buckeyes have played the Terps on eight separate occasions and have won all 8 meetings with an average margin of victory of 34.75 points. However, the Terrapins have forced a couple of close games in the series including a two touchdown game a year ago and the one point game in 2018.
Maryland's defense comes into Columbus ranked 16th in the nation in points allowed per game, while the Buckeyes remain at No. 2 in the nation in the same category. It will be back to back games for Ohio State in which they will face one of the nations top defense's. Yet another big test for the young Kyle McCord. Taulia Tagovailoa will be his dueling partner in this Saturday's showdown. Tagovailoa this season ranks 11th in passing touchdowns and 14th in passing yards while he's thrown just three interceptions in five games. Taulia is also coming off a five touchdown performance against Indiana in which the Terps won 44-17.
While Maryland's defense and passing attack will be the focal point of the game, they also have three high quality running backs who have combined for six touchdowns so far on the season and over 600 yards rushing. Ohio State's top three backs have combined for touchdowns with nine and over 500 yards with one less game played. Both teams have put an emphasis on throwing the football and have dominated lesser opponents this season, but as showcased in the Buckeyes last game against Notre Dame, when the going gets tough you have to get tougher and win the rushing battle to win games. With two explosive offenses' hitting the field this weekend in Columbus time of possession and giving your own defense time to rest is going to be crucial to victory for both teams.
Ryan Day has finally started to let Kyle McCord and this offense open up as they've gotten farther along in the season. However, they've done it with minimal usage of Marvin Harrison Jr. Despite the fact that he still leads the team in yardage and touchdowns this season, he has only touched the ball 17 times in four games. Coming off a bye week following a 32 yard performance on the road look for McCord to find his old high school teammate more often against the Terps. With an emphasis on passing in this first quarter from both teams, expect to see a few more possessions in this quarter than the Buckeyes have played. I expect early scoring from both these teams, but with how good the Buckeyes defense has been this season, don't expect a lot of points put up against them. After the first, the Buckeyes should be on top 17-7.
Going into the second quarter, both defenses and offenses should be locked in to their gameplans and this is where the talent of each team will start to shine through. Once you have to rely on having the better players instead of the better gameplan, then that will favor Ohio State in every game they play. The Buckeyes offense will still have their hands full here in quarter number two, but coming out of the bye week they should be well prepared for everything Maryland has ready to throw at them. The Buckeyes offense finds paydirt twice more here in the second and the defense shuts down Maryland and allows only a field goal. 31-10 at the half.
Don't expect any letup from Ryan Day and the Buckeyes. The modern game requires teams to win with style points and that means blowouts. The Bucks have not scored less than forty points against Maryland in any game the two have played against one another and that won't be changing this weekend. Taulia is a talented quarterback and should find the endzone at least once more in this game whether that comes through the air or on the ground will be the only question. But even with that second half score it won't be enough to take down the No. 4 team in the nation.
Prediction: OSU wins 51-20
Ohio State's defense has been outstanding. In fact it is the best start to the season in over fifty years. With that fans should not worry too hard about what Maryland can throw at them. While I do expect this to be a fun and competitive game, it's not one that is going to have fans on grabbing the Tylenol by the end of it.
Betting Line: OSU -20.0 | O/U 57.5
Twenty points is really a huge spread for a battle of undefeated teams. Especially since the Buckeyes are 1-2 against the spread this season. So far bets have been in favor of the Terps to cover the spread and FanDuel has decreased their spread to -19.5 as a result. While that movement is very minimal it shows the confidence people have in Maryland this season. All time against the Terps, Ohio State is 5-3 against the spread and have an average margin of victory of 44.25 at home. With historical data going against the Terps here it appears the safer bet is to take the Buckeyes to cover the spread this week at home. The over/under is a no-brainer take at 57.5. If the spread fails to hit it is likely because Maryland's offense has a big day and as a result that is going to crush the over. Even without major contributions from Maryland this weekend, Ohio State has more than enough firepower to get this game to that number and beyond.
How to Watch & Listen:
TV: 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX (Big Noon Kickoff)
- Gus Johnson (Play-by-Play), Joel Klatt (Analysis), Jenny Taft (Sideline)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
- Paul Keels (Play-by-Play), Jim Lachey (Analysis), Matt Andrews (Sideline)