Gameday+ | Keys to the Ohio State-Maryland game

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra

Put it all together on offense

The running game has gotten on track the last two games for Ohio State, though it took awhile against Michigan State. But it has come at the expense of the passing game, which isn’t as consistent as it was earlier this season. The blustery weather contributed to that last week, yes. Still, the Buckeyes need to show they can dominate in both phases. Maryland has been more vulnerable to the run than the pass this season. Previous games against the Terps haven’t been close because of Ohio State’s dominance in the trenches. That has to continue.

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Stop the big plays

Maryland has relied on big plays, particularly in the run game. Eight Terrapins have had runs of at least 30 yards. Ohio State was repeatedly gashed for huge plays earlier in the season. After the off week following the Purdue debacle, the Buckeyes worked on their tackling and it has been better the last two weeks. Brendon White’s insertion at safety has made a difference. It’s unlikely that Maryland can string together long drives in smaller chunks. The key is to not allow big ones.

Make Maryland pass

Tyrrell Pigrome takes over for Kasim Hill, who suffered a torn ACL last week, his second such injury in as many seasons. Pigrome has plenty of experience, but he is more of a runner than passer. Ohio State has allowed its last two opponents to convert only 6 of 30 third-down chances, largely because the Buckeyes have forced Nebraska and Michigan State into third-and-long situations. If Ohio State can force Pigrome to have to throw in those situations, that works to the Buckeyes’ advantage.

Continue red zone improvement

Ohio State punched it in twice in the red zone against Michigan State, which is progress. Even so, the Buckeyes offense ranks 122nd in that category, scoring on 73.9 percent of its trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line. Maryland has scored on all 24 trips to the red zone. It is one of only two teams in the country to be perfect in that category. Sixteen have been for touchdowns.

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