Preview: Terps Football Get Ready for First True Test of 2023 Season

Maryland 5-0 (2-0) at #4 Ohio State 4-0 (1-0)

When: October 7th, 12PM EST

Where: Columbus, Ohio

Watch: Fox- Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft

Listen: 105.7 FM (Baltimore), 980 AM (DC)- Johnny Holliday, Steve Suter

The Terps are off to their hottest start since 2001 going 5-0 and winning every game by 18 or more points. However they will have their first true test of the season when they head up north to Columbus, Ohio to take on the fourth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The Terps have yet to beat Ohio State in their eight matchups but have an upset on their mind after taking the Buckeyes down to the wire last season.

Both teams are entering the game with the top two passing attacks in the Big Ten with Ohio State getting 298.5 passing yards per game while the Terps are getting 297.4 passing yards per game. One of the biggest questions for the Terps this week will be how to slow down the passing attack of the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes passing attack is led by Kyle McCord at Quarterback. And McCord has a plethora of talented wide receivers to get the ball to including Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. Harrison Jr. has 336 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns while Egbuka has 263 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns as well. The Terps will be relying heavily on Ja’Quan Sheppard and Tarheeb Still to slow down the Buckeyes passing attack. One thing that might help the Terps out is Harrison Jr. is coming off an ankle injury he sustained in their last game against Notre Dame. However, the Terps are dealing with a key player hurt as well with Tarheeb Still leaving the Indiana game early due to an ankle injury as well. Still and Harrison Jr. are both expected to be a full go for Saturday however and could be a key matchup to watch. The Terps will also be relying on their veteran safety tandem in Dante Trader Jr. and Beau Brade to help limit the big plays the Buckeyes offense is able to create through the passing game.

Another question for the Terps heading into Saturday is if they can get the run game going or not. The Terps are only averaging 126 rushing yards per game in their last three games. While it has not mattered so far this season and they have been able to rely on the passing game a lot, against a team like Ohio State, the Terps will need to try and keep the Buckeyes guessing and have a balanced attack. Ohio State has only allowed on average 149 passing yards per game with just a 58.6 completion percentage. If the Terps will be looking to pull off the upset the offensive line will need to help make holes and the running backs will need to hit those holes and keep the Buckeyes honest on defense. Look for the Terps to use Roman Hemby in the backfield the most, however, Antwain Littleton and Colby McDonald should also get some decent playing time in the backfield as well.

One last major thing the Terps will need to do to pull off the upset over Ohio State is win the turnover battle. Against Michigan last season, the Terps came up short in their upset bid over the Wolverines in large part to losing the turnover battle 3-1. Against Ohio State last season, the Terps lost the turnover battle 1-0. If you are an underdog and want to pull off an upset, the easiest way to do that is earn extra possessions and not hand the ball back to the other team. So far this season, the Terps have a turnover margin of +1.8 turnovers per game while Ohio State only has a turnover margin of +.5 turnovers per game. If the Terps are to pull off the upset, the defense will need to keep giving the offense extra possessions and the offense will need to play a clean game and not cough the ball up.

The Terps have not won a game over a top five team since 2004. And they have not won a road game against a top five team since 1950. If the Terps win this weekend it will prove the Terps belong and can compete with the big three of the Big Ten in Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan. The game is set to kick off at noon for Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff Saturday and will be the Terps fourth nationally televised game of the season. 

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