Maryland Football: Terps face arguably their toughest test against Ohio State

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 30: Jermaine Carter Jr. #1 of the Maryland Terrapins tackles Phillip Howard #25 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 30: Jermaine Carter Jr. #1 of the Maryland Terrapins tackles Phillip Howard #25 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium on September 30, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

The Maryland football team is coming off a very impressive win against Minnesota last week.

On Saturday, the Terrapins are going to have to play their best game of the season as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.

While losing to Central Florida wasn’t the end of the world, it seemed as though Maryland had their backs against the wall last weekend. The Terps came through when it mattered and quarterback Max Bortenschlager turned in a terrific performance.

Offensive coordinator Walt Bell called a phenomenal game that featured a heavy dose of running the football. In addition, he also didn’t put Bortenschlager in many situations that he wasn’t comfortable with.

Bortenschlager made some very nice throws, but he didn’t have to throw the ball downfield on every snap.

Maryland’s defense also stopped the rushing attack, which was easily Minnesota’s biggest strength coming in. Holding any Big Ten to just 2.6 yards-per-carry on 31 total rushing attempts is very impressive.

Neither one of the Golden Gophers’ running backs topped 40 rushing yards on the afternoon. They did find the end zone twice, but both of those scores came from a yard out.

Storylines to watch

  • Don’t abandon the ground game – Ohio State nearly always has a stout run defense, but the Buckeyes are struggling through the first five games. This is a team that is currently yielding 134.6 yards-per-game on the ground, which is just ninth in the Big Ten. Still, this is a group that has plenty of talent that can get into the backfield. After all, Nick Bosa is accumulating 1.6 tackles-for-loss per contest this season. It definitely wouldn’t be a surprise if Maryland struggled to get big chunks of yardage in the early going. If that happens, this isn’t a situation where the Terps should completely forget about the running game. Maryland’s backfield is too good not to be a factor in a game like this. This is a backfield that had 47 carries last week and should have similar numbers this week as well.
  • The Bortenschlager-Moore connection – The running game was definitely one of the big reasons for Maryland 31-24 victory over Minnesota last week. However, star wide receiver D.J. Moore was also a big reason for the offensive success. Bortenschlager targeted Moore early and often, especially when he needed to move the chains. Moore caught eight passes for 90 yards and a touchdown while also adding a 24-yard gain on the ground. Three of Moore’s receptions gave on third down when the Terps needed his production the most. Bortenschlager often threw the ball near the sideline and Moore was able to get enough separation to convert the third down play. When facing a team as talented as Ohio State, your skill players needed to be utilized and Moore needs to get a ton of touches. Bortenschlager is going to need to lean on Moore once again if Maryland wants any chance of pulling off an upset.
  • Take care of the football – Turnovers are obviously always a big part of deciding a game. However, when facing an opponent on Ohio State’s pedigree, Maryland can’t afford to give them any extra possessions or field position advantages. The Terps have only fumble once so far this season and they didn’t lose the fumble. In addition, Maryland quarterbacks have only thrown three interceptions on the season, but Bortenschlager has tossed two of those. Maryland is going to need a similar gameplan to last week, which features a heavy dose of running and high percentage passes. If Bortenschlager can take care of the football, it’ll be a huge feather in Maryland’s cap.

Key player for each team

  • D.J. Moore (Maryland) – As was mentioned above, Moore may be the most important piece that Maryland will need to utilize on Saturday. Bortenschlager targeted Moore quite a bit last week and that’s going to need to continue. When Moore gets the ball in his hands, he’s always a threat to take it to the house. Bell is going to have to use Moore in multiple areas of the game, including potentially lining him up in the backfield or having him take a handoff in motion. Aside from running back Ty Johnson, Moore is the most lethal playmaker on Maryland’s roster.
  • J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State) – Ohio State currently leads the Big Ten in rushing (238.8 yards-per-game) and Dobbins is one of the big reasons for that. The former four-star recruit is averaging a mind-boggling 7.6 yards-per-carry, which is second in the conference behind Johnson ironically. Dobbins is as quick and shifty as they come. He possesses the ability to make cuts on a dime and make defenders look downright foolish. Dobbins is a game-changing running back that could cause the Terps a lot of problems if they fail to complete their tackles.

Projected starting lineups

QB: Max Bortenschlager (So.)
RB: Ty Johnson (Jr.) or Lorenzo Harrison III (So.)
WR: D.J. Moore (Jr.)
WR: Taivon Jacobs (Sr.) or DJ Turner (So.)
WR: Jacquille Veii (Sr.)
TE: Derrick Hayward (Sr.)
T: Derwin Gray (Jr.)
G: Sean Christie (Jr.)
C: Brendan Moore (Jr.)
G: Terrance Davis (So.)
T: Damian Prince (Jr.)
DE: Chandler Burkett (Sr.)
NT: Kingsley Opara (Sr.)
DT: Cavon Walker (Sr.)
BUCK: Chandler Burkett (Sr.) or Melvin Keihn (Jr.) or Bryce Brand (Fr.)
SAM: Jalen Brooks (Sr.)
NICKEL: Antoine Brooks Jr. (So.)
WILL: Shane Cockerille (Sr.)
MIKE: Jermaine Carter Jr. (Sr.)
CB: JC Jackson (Jr.)
S: Darnell Savage Jr. (Jr.)
S: Qwuantrezz Knight (So.)
CB: Tino Ellis (So.) or Antwaine Richardson (So.)
Special Teams
K: Adam Greene (Sr.)
P: Wade Lees (So.)
Ohio State
QB: J.T. Barrett (Sr.)
RB: J.K. Dobbins (Fr.)
WR: Austin Mack (So.)
WR: Terry McLaurin (Jr.)
WR/HB/TE: Parris Campbell (Jr.)
TE: Marcus Baugh (Sr.)
LT: Jamarco Jones (Sr.)
LG: Michael Jordan (So.)
C: Billy Price (Sr.)
RG: Branden Bowen (R-So.)
RT: Isaiah Prince (Jr.)
DE: Tyquan Lewis (Sr.)
DT: Tracy Sprinkle (Sr.)
DT: Sam Hubbard (Jr.)
DE: Jalyn Holmes (Sr.)
LB: Jerome Baker (Jr.)
LB: Chris Worley (R-Sr.)
LB: Dante Booker (Sr.)
CB: Denzel Ward (Jr.)
S: Damon Webb (Sr.)
S: Jordan Fuller (So.)
CB: Damon Arnette (R-So.)
Special Teams
K: Sean Nuernberger (Jr.)
P: Drue Chrisman (So.)


The Ohio State matchup hasn’t exactly been kind to Maryland since they’ve entered the Big Ten. The Terps were absolutely demolished in last year’s meeting, which resulted in a 62-3 loss. This year’s Buckeyes are good, but they may be a little more vulnerable than people think.

Maryland may not pull off the upset, but it’s going to be much closer than expected. Ohio State wins this one 37-27 at “the Shoe.”