The Ohio State Buckeyes have had another impressive week and this time it was against a Big Ten opponent in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Ohio State destroyed Rutgers 52-13 and they are looking to carry that momentum against the Maryland Terrapins.
The Buckeyes are currently favored by over three touchdowns and the future looks fairly bleak for Maryland considering their best wide receiver in Dontay Demus has officially been listed as lost for the season. The Terrapins got knocked around by the Iowa Hawkeyes last Friday on national television and it feels like they have accepted that they are not ready to take the next step up in the Big Ten.
In an effort to prep for the game, I wanted to provide five reasons that Ohio State will roll against Maryland.
Terrapins are still beat up at linebacker
Oct 1, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Michael Locksley looks on during the second half of the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland is not strong on the second level as evidenced by Iowa taking advantage of this lack of talent last week. This group came into the season with a ton of inexperience, but had relatively high hopes due to the two highly touted recruits in Terrance Lewis and Branden Jennings. But Lewis is likely out for the season and Jennings missed last week and his status is up in the air for the Buckeyes. Fa’Najae Gotay was another starter that went down due to injury and will not be available against the Buckeyes. The lone bright spot in Maryland’s second level is Ruben Hyppolite, but he is far from a star.
The Terrapins are not strong at defensive line
Sep 25, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins defensive lineman Mosiah Nasili-Kite (34) celebrates after sacking Kent State Golden Flashes quarterback Dustin Crum (not pictured) during the fourth quarter as linebacker Durell Nchami (30) looks on at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
All four starters across the Maryland defensive line return from last season and three were junior college transfers that were expected to find their stride in their second season. But that hasn’t happened. The Terrapins struggled mightily to put pressure on Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras last week, and I don’t expect that they will have much better luck against the Buckeyes.
Maryland run game has non identity
Sep 25, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins running back Tayon Fleet-Davis (8) celebrates with teammates in the end zone after scoring a second-half touchdown against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Terrapins have three backs that they rotate, but Tayon Fleet-Davis is the main back. He is not going to pour it up the middle, but he catches the ball well out of the backfield. Isaiah Jacobs is the brother of Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs and runs with solid power, but is not a home run threat. Peny Boone is the other back that the Buckeyes could see and he is the sledgehammer, but again no home run speed. Ohio State can keep them in check.
The Buckeyes are improving on the second level
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Teradja Mitchell (3) and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) combine for a tackle on Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (2) during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The Ohio State Buckeyes are weakest at linebacker and the second level of their defense, but they have been lights out the last two weeks and extremely active. Teradja Mitchell no longer looks stuck in the mud and Tommy Eichenberg is no longer a liability. Ronnie Hickman has also found his groove as an in-the-box safety. This back end of the defense is on the rise.
Defensive line is now a strength
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Zach Harrison (9) points to teammate Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (92) after Garrett blocked a point-after-touchdown attempt for Rutgers during the first quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The Ohio State defensive line has been extremely underwhelming, but the last two weeks it has returned to its natural place as the strength of the defense. Zach Harrison and Haskell Garrett both could demand double teams Garrett eats the double teams and allows others to roam free.