Ninth-ranked Ohio State is beginning to find its best form on both sides of the ball and looks to continue moving forward when improving Maryland pays a visit for a Big Ten matchup Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes have scored 148 points over the last three games since the loss to Oklahoma, capped by a 56-0 victory at Rutgers last week, and senior quarterback J.T. Barrett has 10 touchdowns passes without an interception in that stretch.
“Yeah, we’re finally connecting,” Ohio State’s junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon told reporters. “We’re getting our communication and things down. We’re getting on a roll for sure.” Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who will coach his 200th collegiate game (169-30), faces a former assistant for the second straight week as Maryland’s D.J. Durkin worked under him at both Bowling Green and Florida. Durkin’s Terrapins rebounded from a surprising home loss to Central Florida by winning 31-24 at Minnesota last week to open its Big Ten slate as third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager threw two touchdown passes. “It’s going to be an unbelievable opportunity this weekend,” Durkin, whom Meyer calls one of the top coaches to ever be on his staff, told reporters. “This is a great football team that we’re playing. … They’re extremely talented, not any holes anywhere on the roster and they’re very well-coached. Our guys know the task at hand.”
TV: 4 p.m. ET, Fox. LINE: Ohio State -30.5
ABOUT MARYLAND (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten): Bortenschlager, a sophomore, completed 18-of-28 passes for 154 yards and also ran for a score against Minnesota in his first start after the Terrapins’ top two quarterbacks - Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome - went down with season-ending knee injuries. The biggest threat is junior wide-out DJ Moore, who leads the Big Ten in receptions (30), receiving yards (403) and receiving touchdowns (five) while junior running back Ty Johnson has rushed for 411 yards (8.9 per carry). Senior linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. led the team in tackles the last two seasons and tops the Terrapins again with 29, including 2.5 sacks.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (4-1, 2-0): Barrett has been outstanding the last three games while completing 52-of-73 passes and boasts 13 TD strikes with just one interception overall while throwing for scores to nine different receivers. Dixon leads that group with four TD receptions on just eight catches and the Buckeyes’ rushing attack is fully healthy with freshman J.K. Dobbins (573 yards, three touchdowns) and sophomore Mike Weber, who ran for three scores against Rutgers after struggling with hamstring issues. The Ohio State defense has allowed fewer than 100 passing yards in each of the last three games after averaging 403 against the first two.
1. Moore is the first Maryland receiver with five TD catches through four games since Torrey Smith accomplished the feat in 2010.
2. The Buckeyes are second in the nation with 45 tackles for loss, including 22 in the last two weeks, and sophomore DL Nick Bosa leads the way with eight overall.
3. The Terrapins were tied 21-21 in the third quarter during their last trip to Columbus (2015) before losing 49-28 and dropped a 62-3 decision last year at home.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 45, Maryland 17