After a week off, No. 3 Ohio State will return to the field Saturday.
With a noon visit from Maryland on tap this week, here is what you need to know about the 3-6 Terrapins:
1. Maryland has lost four in a row.
The Mike Locksley era began with two wins, including a 63-20 triumph over a Syracuse team that was ranked at the time.
After being upset by Temple 20-17, the Terrapins were routed 59-0 by Penn State on a Friday night. They bounced back to beat moribund Rutgers 48-7 on Oct. 5 but have not won since.
That time has included blowouts at the hands of Purdue, Minnesota and Michigan plus a six-point loss to surging Indiana.
2. Last week they got knocked around at home by Michigan.
The Wolverines returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and it never really got better for the Terrapins, who fell behind 35-0 and managed only 233 total yards in front of an announced crowd of 40,701 fans that sounded like it included lots of Michigan fans.
Maryland had a chance to make a game of it in the first half but turned the ball over and missed a field goal on trips into the red zone and gave up a touchdown late in the second quarter after having a punt partially blocked.
“Early in the game, we wanted to control the tempo, which I thought we did a really good job of on offense,” he told reporters in Ann Arbor. “We slowed the game down, we snapped the ball late in the shot clock, but we didn’t come away with points in the red zone.
“We had the interception early in the game and then we missed a field goal. To me, when you do that, and you shorten the game like we tried to do there to keep our defense off the field, we got to execute, especially in the red area, which we didn’t do.”
3. The return game is Maryland’s best weapon.
The Terrapins are 64th in the nation in scoring (29.6 points per game) and 86th in points allowed (30.0) while struggling both ways on third down and in the red zone (especially on offense, where they ranked 129th in the latter category).
With running back Javon Leake leading the way, Maryland has the No. 1 punt return unit in the Big Ten and the No. 2 kickoff return unit. Leake is No. 12 nationally and third in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards per game (136.8).
As far as advanced statistics, Maryland ranks 63rd in SP+ with an equally average offense (65th) and defense (61st) but the second-worst special teams in the country. The only team rated worse in defensive SP+ is Buffalo.
4. Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke is among several connections to Ohio State or the Buckeye State.
Hoke, who like his brother Brady played at Fairmont East and Ball State, is in his first season at Maryland after spending the past three as defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The elder Hoke began his coaching career at Dayton in 1982 mentoring defensive backs before moving on to Bowling Green, San Diego State, Kent State, Missouri and Florida. He then spent 13 seasons in the NFL, first with the Houston Texans and then the Chicago Bears, before a year at South Carolina as co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.
Maryland has two players from Ohio: Long snapper James Rosenberry (Olentangy) and reserve defensive lineman Anthony Booker Jr. (Cincinnati Winton Woods).
Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones is a starting linebacker for the Terrapins while former Ohio State defensive backs coach Ron Look is a senior analyst on the coaching staff.
5. Locksley has some history with Ohio State, too.
Not only did he face the Buckeyes as a Terrapins assistant in 2014 and ’15, he was also offensive coordinator at Illinois when the Fighting Illini upset the top-ranked Buckeyes in 2007.
Beyond that, his career path had an impact as his exit from Maryland after head coach Randy Edsall was fired (coincidentally the week after a loss to Ohio State in 2015) ended up being a major milepost in quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s journey to Ohio State.
A Washington D.C. native, Locksley had a group of local stars lined up to be Terrapins, but Haskins and Jones flipped to Ohio State after he was passed over in the search for Edsall’s replacement.
While Jones transferred back home after failing to carve out a role at linebacker for the Buckeyes, Haskins set numerous school and Big Ten passing records last season before entering the NFL draft.
A year after they went west, a five-star prospect at Maryland prep powerhouse DeMatha Catholic named Chase Young signed with the Buckeyes, too. Young, who has been so dominant at defensive end this season he has garnered Heisman Trophy buzz, has gone on record saying Locksley being at Maryland could have impacted his decision to leave his home state for college.
6. This series has been one-sided so far.
Ohio State is 5-0 against Maryland with all five meetings coming since the Terps joined the Big Ten in 2014.
The Buckeyes have outscored the Terrapins 277-120, and their 55.4 points per game are the most for Ohio State against any opponent it has faced at least five times.
Last season nearly changed that narrative, of course, as the Buckeyes had to rally to win at Maryland in overtime 52-51.
The other four contests have all been decided by at least three touchdowns.
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