The Maryland football team faces arguably their toughest opponent of the 2017 season when they travel to Columbus on Saturday.
Ohio State has always been the class of the Big Ten and is on pace for that once again despite a tumultuous start.
The Buckeyes started off the season by getting everything they could handle on the road against Indiana. The Hoosiers nearly dominated the game in the first half, but the Buckeyes were able to flex their muscles in the second half and pull way in a 49-21 victory.
Ohio State experienced an even lower point the following week when they fell to Oklahoma at home. Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield torched the Buckeye defense to the tune of 386 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 31-16 upset.
It was the first game in quite some time that Ohio State looked downright pedestrian offensively. Still, this is clearly a unit that is loaded with talent.
J.T. Barrett has been one of the better quarterbacks in the country in recent years.
In addition, he’s had a tendency to carve up Maryland’s defense in their meetings over the past three seasons.
In three games, Barrett has completed 38-of-53 passes for 546 yards and six touchdowns. In addition, the Texas native also has rushed for 180 yards on the ground and six touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry.
In the 2015 meeting, Ohio State used Cardale Jones as their primary quarterback, so Barrett mainly saw work on the ground. Barrett rushed for 62 yards and a pair of scores on 12 carries in a 49-28 win over Maryland.
Aside from the Oklahoma game, Barrett has looked nearly flawless so far this season. He’s completing 63.6 percent of his passes and has tossed 13 touchdown passes compared to just one interception.
Barrett is a true difference maker because of his ability to run the football. If there’s nobody open, this is a quarterback that isn’t going to hesitate to take off.
The senior signal caller can move around the pocket and isn’t afraid to sling it down the field. Barrett has a history of being a very accurate quarterback, so it’s not surprising to see his numbers so high in 2017.
Maryland is going to need to have a spy on Barrett at all times on Saturday or they will get burned.
Curtis Samuel was a key playmaker for the Ohio State backfield last season.
While losing Samuel was a big deal, J.K. Dobbins may be even more talented at the running back position.
The former four-star recruit was one of the top players in the high school ranks last season. Dobbins was ranked as the second all-purpose back in the country, according to 247Sports.
Ironically, Maryland freshman Anthony McFarland was rated as the third-best all-purpose tailback.
Dobbins jumps right off the tape at first glance. He is so shifty and can sidestep a defender at a moment’s notice.
The true freshman makes cuts like nobody’s business as he can switch directions without even flinching. Dobbins is the first true freshman to start Ohio State’s season opener since Maurice Clarett did it back in 2002.
Dobbins currently has totaled 573 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in five games. He’s also averaging 7.6 yards-per-carry, which is second in the Big Ten behind Maryland’s Ty Johnson (8.9).
He’s not a guy that is used much in the passing game as he only has three receptions so far. Still, Dobbins is already one of the most dangerous backs in the conference.
Ohio State lost their top three leading receivers from their 2016 roster.
While it’s only been five games this season, Parris Campbell has offered big play potential that the Buckeyes have desperately needed.
Campbell isn’t a high-volume target, but he does normally make the most of his touches. He has totaled 20 receptions for 353 yards and two touchdowns despite averaging just 4.0 receptions per contest.
In games against Oklahoma, Rutgers, and UNLV, Campbell registered three catches or less in each contest. However, Campbell had three receptions for a whopping 105 yards and a score.
Campbell’s numbers were aided by the fact that he broke off a 69-yard catch-and-run.
That’s just the type of player that Campbell is. If he just gets an inch of space and catches the ball in stride, he has the potential to take it the distance.
His best performance came against Indiana when he hauled in six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Campbell is one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten by far. Maryland is certainly going to have to know where he is lined up on every play on Saturday.