Maryland heads to Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH to take on the reigning national champion Ohio State Buckeyes Saturday at noon on the Big Ten Network. The Terps are hoping to pull off a historic upset of the nation's No. 1 team as rumors circulate about the job status of head coach Randy Edsall. Maryland issued a statement saying that Edsall will be on the sidelines against OSU, but made no commitment to their head coach beyond Saturday,
Even prior to the Randy Edsall firing speculation, Maryland was a huge long shot against Ohio State, opening as a 28.5 point underdog. That line jumped up to 32.5 a short time later and has remained there all week. S&P+ is a little more forgiving, putting the margin of victory at 20 points for the Buckeyes, with an 88% chance for an OSU victory.
Ohio State hasn't exactly been lightening it up as defending national champs so far this season. Their margin of victory in two of their last three games has been just seven points as they've really struggled in their redzone offense, recording just six touchdowns in their sixteen opportunities so far this season. They remain undefeated at 5-0, but they certainly haven't performed at the level most expected when the season began.
No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0)
2014 record: 14-1, won 1st college football playoff, capturing 2014 National Championship
Head coach: Urban Meyer (43-3, 147-26 career)
All-time record vs. Maryland: 1-0
F/+ ranking: 25 (Maryland is 83)
5-year recruiting ranking: 4
Players to know
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, junior, 6-0, 225 lbs. Elliott has been helping to carry Ohio State so far this season. He's currently leading the Big Ten in rushing, averaging just under 146 yards per game. He also has eight touchdowns so far this season. If Maryland wants to have any kind of shot at beating the Buckeyes, it will have to start will containing Elliott.
Cardale Jones, QB, junior, 6-5, 250 lbs. Jones ended up under center for Urban Meyer, winning out the starting QB job over J.T. Barrett. Jones hasn't been nearly as impactful as he was last season, especially in the red zone. He's thrown just five touchdowns this season along with five interceptions and is averaging just over 173 passing yards per game. He's also rushed for 127 yards on 40 attempts, which averages out to 3.17 yards per attempt.
Michael Thomas, WR, junior, 6-3, 210 lbs. Thomas has been the Buckeyes' most productive receiver so far this season, accounting for four touchdowns and racking up 292 receiving yards on 20 receptions. He's had at least one touchdown in all but one of the Buckeyes' first five games.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, sophomore, 6-2, 240. McMillian leads Ohio State in tackles with 54, including 25 solo. He's averaging just over 10 tackles per game and has been a dominant force on defense for the Buckeyes this year. Maryland fans might remember McMillan from last year, when he made this interception.
IsoPPP: In case you aren't familiar, isoPPP looks just at plays that are successful and then how many points a team scores per successful play. Ohio State this year ranks 17th in isoPPP on standard downs, gaining 1.42 points per successful play on offense.
Defensive efficiency: The Buckeyes defense ranks 4th in defensive efficiency. Why is that important? Teams that win the efficiency battle win 83% of their games. Maryland ranks 85th in defensive efficiency and 121st in offensive efficiency this year.
S&P+ and Passing Success Rate on defense: Ohio State's defense has been one of their biggest strengths this season. You can really see that in their defensive S&P+ ranking and their defensive Passing Success Rate, which nationally rank 3rd and 2nd respectively. That's bad news for a Maryland team that has really struggled at the QB position this season.
Finishing drives. As I mentioned earlier, Ohio State has struggled in the red zone this season. They're only averaging 4.78 points per trip inside the 40 yard line, which ranks 67th nationally.
Explosiveness on defense: The biggest weakness of OSU's defense is arguably their isoPPP. When opposing teams have successful plays against their defense, they're averaging 1.26 points per play, which ranks 76th nationally. The problem for Maryland is their inability to have successful plays on offense.
S&P+ prediction: Ohio State 34.6, Maryland 14.6. 88% chance Ohio State wins.
My prediction: Ohio State 40, Maryland 10