Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was the key to the Buckeyes success this season.
Now that Miller is out for the season after reinjuring his surgically-repaired shoulder, Ohio State suddenly becomes extremely vulnerable in the grand scheme of the Big Ten.
But just how does this affect Maryland?
First of all, the race in the East Divisjon just got a whole lot more interesting. Michigan State is an overwhelming favorite with Ohio State losing the straw that stirs their drink for the entire season. The Spartans could be a dark horse for the National Championship, despite being ranked eighth in the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 preseason polls.
After Michigan State, the East is completely wide open. Will the Buckeyes still be able to win most of their games with either J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones under center? That is the million dollar question around the Big Ten circle right now. Ohio State is still loaded at several positions, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Buckeyes near the top of the division once again.
Teams like Michigan and Penn State lost some quality talent from a year ago, and are definitely vulnerable once the conference schedule commences. This is where the Terrapins could figure into the divisional race. Indiana and Rutgers are likely going to be afterthoughts in terms of competing for the East Division crown in 2014.
Along with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State, Maryland could vie for second and third place in the East Division. The Buckeyes will likely be relying on defense to win games, and will still need adequate quarterback play to survive the Big Ten.
As I’ve said before, I strongly believe has the talent to be an upper tier squad in the Big Ten this season. The firepower still remains on offense behind C.J. Brown, and the undervalued defense returns nine of their starters. Aside from the Spartans, there isn’t another top 15-type team. As I said, the Buckeyes are a huge question mark.
That’s why the October 4 matchup between Ohio State and Maryland is so key. Now without Miller running the offense, that game becomes a little easier for the Terps. Whether the Buckeyes quarterback is Barrett or Jones, they’ll be heading into a hostile environment with limited experience under their belt. There’s no doubt that Byrd Stadium will be sold out for this game, and it will likely be one of the hottest tickets of the year in College Park.
If the Terps can win road games against the Nittany Lions and Wolverines (not an easy feat), they just might be up there with the Spartans when the dust settles in December. Only time will tell how good this team can be, but the talent is clearly going to be there, and this Miller injury certainly could be a shot in the arm.