It’s back on the road for the Buckeyes in the penultimate game of the regular season as Ohio State faces yet another Big Ten foe which it is favored to beat by four-plus scores.
6-4 (3-4 B1G)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
3:30 P.M. – SATURDAY, NOV. 19
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND
The 6-4 Maryland Terrapins got off to their best start under fourth-year full-time head coach Mike Locksley but have struggled as of late and run the risk of losing a third straight game in November as they host the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes on Saturday.
Ohio State’s never lost to Maryland in seven all-time meetings, and aside from 2018’s 52-51 overtime thriller in College Park, none of those matchups have been particularly close. Ohio Stae has outscored Maryland 139-31 in the two games since 2018, most recently blowing the Terps out 66-17 in Columbus last season.
This Saturday marks Ohio State’s first trip back to College Park since that one-point win four years ago, but oddsmakers still favor the Buckeyes to win by a 25-point margin.
Here are five things to know about Ohio State’s next opponent as the Buckeyes ready themselves for their final regular season road trip this weekend.
Bowl-eligible for second straight year
After going just 5-12 in his first two full seasons with Maryland, Locksley led the Terps to their highest win total in seven years in 2021 (7-6). Locksley landed Maryland in a bowl game for the first time since 2016 with a win in the final week of the regular season, and the Terrapins’ 54-10 victory in the Pinstripe Bowl was the program’s first bowl victory since 2010.
This year, Maryland became bowl eligible must faster, starting 6-2 with losses coming only to Michigan and Purdue by a combined nine points. It was the earliest timeframe in which Maryland had secured bowl eligibility since 2001, and the Terps will play in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2014.
Maryland kicked off the year with three straight non-conference wins over Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU before dropping to Michigan, 34-27, in Week 4. That seven-point loss represents the closest any team has come to beating the Wolverines this season.
Maryland then won three of its next four Big Ten matchups, beating Michigan State by two touchdowns and knocking off Indiana and Northwestern in the middle of October. Maryland’s only other loss in the first eight games was a two-point defeat to Purdue in a game that the Terps led in the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back poor performances
Despite Maryland’s early success in 2022, the wheels have fallen off to start the regular season's final month.
Playing at Wisconsin on Nov. 5, Maryland suffered its widest margin of defeat all year in a 23-10 loss to a Badger team that entered the game with just a 4-4 record. The Terps then got shut out by Penn State in a 30-0 blowout in Happy Valley this past weekend.
With two straight losses, Maryland has now lost back-to-back games for the first time all season. While it returns home for the first time in four weeks, Maryland is hardly playing its best football entering a matchup with perhaps the best team in the conference.
Maryland’s mustered just 10 total points and 323 yards of total offense in the past two weeks, failing to crack 200 yards against either Wisconsin or Penn State. Before this stretch, Maryland hadn’t scored less than 27 points all season and was averaging 34.1 points per game through the first eight.
If the Terps hope to threaten Ohio State on Saturday, they better find some offense fast, as they face a Buckeye team that ranks No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense (46.8 points per game).
Top-five passer in Big Ten
Taulia Tagovailoa’s success under center was critical for Maryland in the first seven games of the season. The third-year Terrapin starter threw for at least 200 yards and completed 64% of his passes in every game during that stretch, cracked 270 yards on five occasions and had three games with at least three total touchdowns.
However, an MCL sprain suffered against Michigan was re-aggravated in Maryland’s win over Indiana, which saw Tagovailoa carted off the field and sidelined for the Terps’ next contest. Since returning to action against Wisconsin, Tagovailoa hasn’t been the same.
Tagovailoa’s had his two worst games of the season in back-to-back weeks. Against Wisconsin, he completed just 10 of his 23 pass attempts and finished with 77 yards, one touchdown and an interception. This past weekend he had a season-low 74 yards on 11-for-22 passing and failed to throw a touchdown for the first time since the season opener.
Still, Tagovailoa’s 2,152 passing yards are the fourth-most in the conference this season. His 68.3 completion percentage is higher than any Big Ten passer besides Illinois’ Tommy Devito and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.
Taulia Tagovailoa: 90.3 PFF grade against the blitz this season— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 11, 2022
Second highest among all QBs pic.twitter.com/LS4h7fXhQu
Weapon at wideout
If Maryland finds success through the air, it’s likely to dovetail with a big game from Tagovailoa’s top target. Five-star 2020 recruit Rakim Jarrett leads the Terps with 37 catches for 406 yards this season, and while he hasn’t been as effective as he was in 2021, Jarrett’s still plenty capable of making big plays in the passing game.
Jarrett caught just one pass against the Buckeyes last season, but it went for a 43-yard touchdown. That was part of a season where Jarrett hauled in 62 passes for 829 yards and five scores.
Every Maryland loss has come this year on days where Jarrett’s impact was limited. Against Michigan, Jarrett finished with just 12 yards. In the Purdue loss, he had 28. Jarrett caught just one pass for five yards against Wisconsin and three for 30 yards in this past weekend’s loss to Penn State.
But Jarrett has hauled in at least four passes this season on five occasions and finished with at least 65 yards in three games. Jarrett’s most recent standout performance came in Maryland’s only complete game without Tagovailoa, where he caught eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown against Northwestern.
Big-time pass catchers have gashed Ohio State before this year, and Jarrett will try to do the same on Saturday.
Unspectacular in most areas
Maryland’s statistical rankings won’t blow anyone away. The Terps rank outside the top 50 in every major category.
The passing attack mentioned above is Maryland’s best area on offense, where it ranks 54th in the country with an average of 241.5 yards per game. On the ground, Maryland ranks 65th with 154.3 yards per game.
Poor performances the past two weeks have helped to tank Maryland’s rank in scoring and total offense. The Terps are now averaging 28.3 points per game on offense, which is just 69th in the nation, and its 394 total yards per game rank 63rd.
Maryland’s average allowance of 24.6 points per game on defense is 53rd in the FBS. Its rankings in all other major defensive categories are much lower, though. In total defense, the Terps are 72nd in the nation, with opponents averaging 381 yards per game. Maryland is 76th against the pass (232.1 yards per game) and 69th against the run (148.9).
None of those figures are imposing, and Maryland isn’t likely to beat the Buckeyes with a mediocre effort on Saturday.