COLUMBUS – For two teams who have rarely played each other in football, Ohio State and Maryland do have a bit of history between them.
When Maryland played its first Big Ten home game in 2014, the Buckeyes were the opponent. That didn’t turn out well for the Terrapins when Ohio State won 52-24.
Last year, Ohio State won 49-28 at Ohio Stadium in a game that didn’t turn out well for the Terrapins or coach Randy Edsall. After the game, Edsall was fired after alienating most of his players and his bosses.
In January of this year, the Buckeyes and Terrapins coaches engaged in a little off the field competition, which didn’t end well for Maryland, either, when OSU lured Maryland’s two top recruits away during the transition from Edsall to new coach D.J. Durkin.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins and linebacker Keandre Jones, both of whom went to Maryland high schools, were the centerpieces of the Terrapins recruiting class. Instead, they chose to wear scarlet and gray.
Two years ago when the game at Maryland had a noon kickoff, OSU coach Urban Meyer sent the Buckeyes to bed at 9 p.m. at the team hotel.
It wouldn’t be surprising if he said it was lights out early again this year, even though kickoff this time around is 3:30 p.m.
In his Monday press conference and his Wednesday post-practice interview session, Meyer answered several questions with “Beat Maryland,” indicating his focus was on this week’s game and nothing else. And you know that message was conveyed to his players, too.
Clearly, he does not want Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) thinking too far ahead, like to a revenge game at Michigan State next week or to a huge game against Michigan the week after that at Ohio Stadium.
Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) started the season with four straight wins but has come back to earth recently. Its two Big Ten wins are over Purdue and Michigan State.
It shouldn’t be a close game. Maryland quarterback Perry Hills has been battling a shoulder injury most of the season and came out of a 59-3 loss to Michigan last Saturday even more banged up. The Terrapins offense is top-heavy toward the run game and their defense is not particularly stout.
Oh, and their most dynamic player, kick returner and defensive back Will Likely, has been lost for the season after an ACL tear.
Ohio State’s season has been a funny mixture of exceeding expectations and coming up short of them.
Even with 16 new starters, the Buckeyes came out of the starting blocks fast and looked very good early in the season. But a loss to Penn State and a couple of close games created some doubt about just how good these Buckeyes are.
But just when people were starting to downgrade their expectations, OSU served up a 62-3 butt kicking of Nebraska in a matchup of Top Ten teams last Saturday night.
So, which Ohio State team shows up today? A pretty good one. Or at least one quite a bit better than Maryland.
There don’t seem to be many ways Maryland could turn today’s game into something that would be a big part of its football history. Durkin, who has worked for Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, might turn the Terrapins around. But it’s still early in the turn.
The prediction: Ohio State 35, Maryland 14.