COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State, the nation's No. 1 team in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the year, faces the first of two struggling Big Ten opponents Saturday before late-season showdowns against Penn State - No. 4 in the CFP - and rival Michigan. Maryland comes to Columbus as a huge underdog and in the throes of a four-game losing streak.
TV: Noon ET, FOX. LINE: Ohio State -43
The Buckeyes return to action from a bye week that came after a dominant performance against Wisconsin in a 38-7 victory. They have won 14 straight - the second-longest active streak in the nation - and have shown few weaknesses. The offense ranks third nationally in scoring at 48.3 points per game, and the defense is No. 1 in fewest points allowed at 7.9 and has given up an FBS-low six touchdowns. Maryland will be hard pressed to stay with Ohio State, which has won 31 of its last 32 Big Ten home games by an average of 23.3 points.
ABOUT MARYLAND (3-6, 1-5)
After starting the season with two wins, the Terrapins have fallen on hard times with their lone victory against Rutgers. Maryland’s offense has shown some signs of life behind the running of Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland, who have combined for 1,019 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, and Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Josh Jackson is completing 49.7 percent of his passes for 1,065 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air. Defense is where the team has struggled, with Maryland among the nation’s worst in stopping opponents in the red zone and at the bottom of the Big Ten in passing yards allowed (262.8), and next to last in the conference in total defense (413.8 yards per game) to Rutgers.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten)
Defensive end Chase Young has received lots of attention and joined the Heisman Trophy conversation based on a national-leading 13.5 sacks through eight games while anchoring the nation’s No. 2 defense in fewest yards allowed at 224.2 per game. Also prominent in the Heisman discussion is sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, who has thrown 24 touchdown passes, run for nine and shown good decision-making ability for a first-year starter at the helm of Ohio State’s high-powered offense. And then there’s running back J.K. Dobbins, who also has posted Heisman-worthy numbers with 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns on 154 carries for a 7.2-yard average.
1. Ohio State has won all five meetings since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014 by an average of 31.4 points, but last year the Buckeyes barely escaped College Park with a 52-51 victory.
2. Ryan Day remains unbeaten as Ohio State's coach with an 11-0 record but has a ways to go to equal predecessor Urban Meyer, who won his first 24 games with the Buckeyes before losing in the 2013 Big Ten championship game.
3. Dobbins, who needs 203 yards to pass Eddie George for third on Ohio State's career rushing list, has seven more yards through eight games this season than George did when he won the Heisman Trophy in 1995. Dobbins ran for a career-high 203 yards last year against Maryland.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 56, Maryland 7