The no. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes will look to avoid a late-season letdown this weekend when they play host to the Maryland Terrapins. Kickoff is at noon EST on Saturday, November 9 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox.
The Buckeyes are currently listed as 44-point favorites at home. That line has increased after Ohio State opened the week as 42-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 63.5 points. Click here to check out a complete list of this week’s college football betting odds.
Ohio State comes out of last week’s bye at 8-0 and in line to reach the College Football Playoff if they can keep winning. The Buckeyes were supposed to have their biggest test of the season two weeks ago when they hosted Wisconsin. But OSU made quick work of the Badgers, winning 38-7. That score keeps up Ohio State’s run of winning every game this year by at least 24 points.
To be fair, the schedule will get harder for Ohio State at the end of the season when they play Penn State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. Until then, the goal for the Buckeyes is to remain sharp and avoid a letdown against Maryland and Rutgers, two of the worst teams in the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, Maryland is in a must-win situation if they want to qualify for a bowl. The Terps were outstanding the first two weeks of the season and were even 3-2 in early October. But Maryland has lost four in a row in Big Ten play, with most of those games being decided by lopsided margins.
As it stands, the Terrapins are 3-6 and just 1-5 in conference play. If they somehow upset Ohio State, the Terps would also need to beat Nebraska and Michigan State. That leaves Maryland’s bowl chances at slim to nil, as Mike Locksley has failed to get things completely turned around in his first season back in College Park.
That being said, Maryland nearly stunned Ohio State when they met last November. The Terrapins jumped out to a 17-3 lead and led most of the game. However, the Buckeyes forced overtime and Maryland missed a 2-point conversion try in overtime, losing 52-51. As a result, the Buckeyes are a perfect 5-0 against the Terrapins since Maryland joined the Big Ten. Of course, last year’s game is the outlier, as the other four games were decided by at least 24 points, including a 62-14 blowout the last time Maryland visited Columbus.
It’s never easy to lay down this many points because one unlucky play is sometimes enough for a heavy underdog to beat the spread. But this game fits the mold when eating the points is warranted. The Buckeyes have blown out every team they’ve faced this season while Maryland has failed to stay competitive against elite teams. I’ll trust that coming out of their bye, Ohio State is sharp and comes to play, enabling them to cover 44 points.
The Ohio State offense has proven that they are virtually unstoppable when playing up to their potential. OSU’s lowest point total this year is 34 points, and that came against a strong Michigan State defense. The Buckeyes have topped 44 points in five of their eight games, so there’s little doubt that they’re capable of scoring enough points to cover in this game.
Quarterback Justin Fields is putting up video game numbers, throwing 24 touchdown passes to just one interception. On top of that, he’s scored nine rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the OSU passing attack is complemented by running back J.K. Dobbins, who is a home run threat and has a backup in Master Teague who is just as dangerous.
More importantly, the Terrapins have a defense that’s unlikely to put up much of a fight against the Ohio State offense. Even last year when Maryland nearly upset Ohio State, the defense couldn’t stop the Buckeyes. Things haven’t been any better this year, as both Penn State and Minnesota have scored over 50 points against the Terps. Even more modest offensive teams like Michigan and Purdue have gashed the Maryland defense without a problem.
On the other side of the ball, I trust the Ohio State defense to keep a shut out, or at least come close. Ever since Florida Atlantic scored 21 points against the Buckeyes in their season opener, they’ve conceded no more than 10 points in a game. In their last seven games, Ohio State is giving up six points per game. That means the OSU offense may not need to score that much more than 44 points to cover.
As for the Maryland offense, they’ve endured a world of problems after such a promising start to the season. The Terrapins are averaging under 12 points per game in their five Big Ten losses. Even with starting quarterback Josh Jackson back from injury, the Terps couldn’t get anything going last time out against Michigan. Against top teams like Michigan, Penn State, and Minnesota, the Terrapins have managed no more than 10 points, which seems like their ceiling against Ohio State.
Admittedly, there is always some semblance of a risk when laying down 40-plus points. However, the Ohio State offense is one of the most explosive in the country while Maryland has proven to be inept on both sides of the ball. If the Buckeyes remember last year’s close call, they shouldn’t have a problem keeping their foot on the pedal, especially at home. That makes me comfortable eating 44 points and taking Ohio State to cover.