Buckeyes May Not Be Kind Homecoming Hosts For Maryland

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant

Leave it to a native Ohioan to spell it out what needs to be done in order to win. West Point graduate, Civil War general, and former United State President, I am willing to bet Ulysses S. Grant would have given football coaching a shot if it had been around in his day.

While counting down the days until the 2015 college football season begins, I thought I would pass the time by ranking and reviewing the upcoming 2015 Ohio State opponents, from least difficult to most difficult. This ranking system of mine will be highly subjective, prone to possibilities of injuries, transfers, or other unforeseen events that could dramatically impact its accuracy. As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.


Maryland Terrapins (Game 6)

2015 OSU Opponent Ranking: 8 out of 12

Players Recruited By Ohio State: OL Derwin Gray, OL Damian Prince, WR Taivon Jacobs, RB Wes Brown, DL Adam McLean. Jacobs actually gave a verbal commitment to Ohio State back in 2013, but decided to sign with Maryland to be closer to his young daughter.

Game Date: October 10, 2015

Kickoff Time: 12pm EST. Telecast TBD.

Location: Ohio Stadium

Rationale For The Ranking: Last season, Ohio State traveled to play Maryland for the first time as a B1G conference opponent and won in quite convincing fashion, 52-24. Maryland could start off the non-conference portion of its 2015 schedule undefeated, with three winnable games at home (Richmond, Bowling Green, South Florida), as well as a road trip to West Virginia. Maryland gets Michigan at home before the Terrapins make their trip to Ohio Stadium. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Maryland is undefeated coming into Columbus.

Why the low ranking, then?

The aforementioned blowout win from last season, for starters. Ohio State was not truly pushed by Maryland last season, and that was when Maryland had Stefon Diggs that the Buckeyes had to account for defensively. Diggs is now gone, after declaring for the 2015 NFL Draft. Last season, Ohio State led Maryland 31-10 at the half; I am guessing it could be more of the same in Ohio Stadium on October

Prediction: Ohio State traditionally does not have a difficult time motivation-wise as it relates to homecoming games. The home crowd, plus Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer’s exceptional skills for motivation, lead me to believe that Ohio State will come out for this game fired up and ready to go. Maryland might be able to make it a game for maybe the first half, but I have difficulty seeing the Terrapins keeping pace with the Buckeyes for long.

Maryland Head Coach Randy Edsall is trying to position the Terrapins as one of the better teams within The B1G. Playing Ohio State tough as a homecoming opponent might be a step in that direction.

Terrapins Can Make It Terrible For Ohio State’s First MD Visit

Ohio State travels to Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland, for its first ever contest against B1G newcomer Maryland. Maryland was projected as having a strong initial season within the B1G, and this trip to Byrd Stadium should prove to be quite a raucous beginning for Ohio State as the Buckeyes begin conference play for the 2014 season.

Last weekend’s contest versus the University of Cincinnati left Ohio State fans curious about the Buckeye pass defense. New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash was brought in during the offseason to fix what was considered the weakest link in Ohio State’s defense. After allowing Bearcats WR Chris Moore to average nearly 74 yards per reception (3 receptions for 221 yards, 3 touchdowns), who could blame Ohio State fans for feeling somewhat anxious heading into a game that features two of the B1G’s leading receivers in former Ohio State recruiting target Stefon Diggs and Deon Long?

Besides Diggs and Long, Maryland features other players on its roster who may be familiar to Ohio State fans. Players such as OT Damian Prince, OT Derwin Gray, and WR Taivon Jacobs were all recruited by Ohio State, but chose Maryland instead. The lone Ohioan listed on Maryland’s roster is freshman TE Andrew Gray, who did not receive an Ohio State scholarship offer.

Three areas I will focus upon during the game are:

– Ohio State’s Press Coverage With Its Secondary: Anytime a team decides to play aggressively with its pass defense, it is a high risk, high reward situation. Receivers such as Diggs and Long can easily take a pass all the way to the end zone, like Chris Moore did last weekend. Will Ohio State adjust its safety play to offer up more help to its cornerbacks, and help neutralize the threat of big plays?

– Ohio State’s Pass Rush Must Come Up Big: So far this season, sophomore DE Joey Bosa has been causing disruptive plays along the line of scrimmage, resulting in turnovers against the opposition. Will Bosa be able to come up big again, especially against a Maryland team that may double-team him? If Bosa is double-teamed, will Adolphus Washington or Michael Bennett be able to pick up the slack, and create the necessary pressure to help Ohio State’s secondary?

– Ohio State’s Run Game Must Control The Clock: Against Cincinnati, sophomore RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for 182 yards, while teammates J.T. Barrett, Rod Smith, Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel, and Jalin Marshall also contributed to the overall team rushing effort (380 yards on the ground). To keep Maryland off the field, Ohio State will need its rushing attack to come through in the clutch time of this contest.

While the oddsmakers have penciled Ohio State as a strong favorite, I believe this game will be in doubt until midway through the fourth quarter. Even though there will be anxious moments for Ohio State fans, players, and coaches, I have it Ohio State 42, Maryland 31, with Ohio State scoring a late touchdown to secure its first B1G victory of the 2014 season.