How will Ohio State fare this week against the Terrapins?

Even though Ohio State is a prohibitive favorite over Maryland this week, this is a big game for the Buckeyes. Bill Greene explains why.

- First off, to nobody's surprise, Maryland is not a good football team. Ohio State, even with all their flaws, deserves to be a 32-point favorite. No doubt about it, even though the Buckeyes have struggled the past month covering any spread. But this week is an important week to see exactly who this team is. Are they a potentially great team, one heading to a repeat national title? Or are they Florida State from last year? Floundering around undefeated because they play nobody, until they got a fist slammed right to the jaw? 

- To me, this is still potentially a great team and there is still time to show they are exactly that. I feel the problem with this team is centered directly on the quarterback position, and if that can be fixed all will be well. But if Cardale Jones and/or J.T. Barrett continue to play bad football, can that spread throughout the rest of the team, reducing them to just another Big Ten team? 

- Throughout the past decade, the ultimate problem solver in college football has been Urban Meyer and he's dangerous when counted out or thought to be dead in the water. And even though it's just the hapless Terps this week, make no mistake: Urban Meyer knows people are snickering at his number-one ranked team. After Ohio State's lowest point last season, following the loss to Virginia Tech that gave them three losses in four games, the Buckeyes went on a tear that didn't stop until they had hoisted the trophy in Dallas. 

- Things are nowhere near as dark as they were the night the Hokies came to Columbus and punked OSU, and Ohio State is undefeated and ranked at the top of college football right now. But there are rumblings about "over-hyped" and "over-rated", and Meyer is well aware of that. And he is the reason why Ohio State is going to put one on the Terrapins this weekend, and it's not going to be close. 

- I don't care which QB has to take the snaps, and they can bench Cardale for J.T. or play Stephen Collier, Joey Burrow, Torrance Gibson or Danny Clark for that matter. This should be the week that Ohio State either plays like an elite football team, after four weeks of average-to-below-average football, or we realize they really aren't THAT good.

- Offensively, the running game got untracked last week and the offensive line played exceptionally well against Indiana. There's no reason to think it won't happen again. Ezekiel Elliott should have another monster game running the ball. Which should, repeat SHOULD, open up the play action passing game. 

- The wide receivers are fine. Mike Thomas is as reliable a possession receiver as there is in the country. Jalin Marshall has proven he can deep, and would have two or three more touchdowns if the quarterbacks could get it to him. Nick Vannett is another reliable pass catcher. Then you have short pass specialists in Braxton Miller and Dontre Wilson. This group is fine, and if/when the quarterback play steps up that will be evident. 

- As for the quarterbacks, this week should be the game Cardale Jones steps up and solidifies his hold on the job. His team is going to be focused around him, and Maryland does not present many problems defensively. I'm expecting him to play well. If he doesnt, I do think Meyer will once again try J.T. Barrett, and if that happens this could be the week that he returns to being J.T. Barrett, and not J.T. Bauserman. Inside reports say this was the best of week of practice Barrett has had this year, and had he played like this in fall camp he would have won the job. Either way, I expect the quarterback play to be very good this week, and both guys know they have a lot to prove. 

- Defensively, things have been good but not perfect. The turnovers and penalties by the offense has put this group in so many bad situations, but they've played well overall. If we see a day where the offense plays the way people think they can play, this will not have the defense out there for 91 plays like they were against Indiana. I'm expecting multiple turnovers from Maryland this week, with at least one defensive touchdown from Ohio State.

- Lost in Jalin Marshall's troubles holding onto the football last week was the fact that he was inches away from breaking a couple punt reurns for touchdowns. I'm expecting a special teams score this week, and since Maryland won't be kicking off all that much it will either be by a blocked punt or Marshall running back a punt. 

- In Meyer's four seasons at Ohio State there really haven't been that many times he's been challenged or questioned. In the few times he was, like playing Michigan State last year as an underdog on the road, Meyer has delivered a knockout blow. Look, everyone around this team knows what's being said and written about this team. As much as they all say they don't read the internet or watch ESPN, that's all BS. They read. And watch. This is the perfect game to make a statement. 

- As much as making a statement is mostly symbolic, getting the QB spot right is reality and that means something. Having to go to Barrett this week would be the ultimate gamble, because if J.T. fails then where are you and what do you do? If you go to Barrett and he isn't the answer, does anyone think throwing a defeated Cardale Jones back in there results in another national title? Changing QB's again is a move that Meyer can only do one more time and it had better succeed, or he loses the team. The best result is for Cardale Jones to play the position the way he showed last year in the playoff run, and the way he played it against Virginia Tech this season. That's what I'm expecting this week. 

- THE PREDICTION: You can keep going to the well with an overrated team week after week, and just watch your prediction record go straight to the toilet, but I think this week sets up perfectly for Ohio State to get the QB's back in synch and demolish a downtrodden Maryland squad. I'm calling it  Ohio State 62   Maryland 10.  


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