No. 1 Ohio State sees turnaround coming against Maryland
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer believes the Buckeyes’ victory over Maryland last season was the turning point that eventually led to the College Football Playoff championship.
He’s hoping for the same type of boost Saturday when the Terrapins make their first trip to Ohio Stadium to face the top-ranked Buckeyes.
It might seem odd that a team such as Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), with an 18-game winning streak, needs a turnaround, but the Buckeyes have failed to meet their high expectations.
Maryland might provide another turning point.
"It has to be," Meyer said Wednesday.
The Buckeyes have underachieved on offense after settling on Cardale Jones at quarterback and have been ineffective in the red zone, prone to penalties and had more turnovers (13) than takeaways (nine).
"I was a raving lunatic about (turnovers) this week," Meyer said. "They’re pressing trying to make plays. If effort’s the problem, you implode. If it’s not, you just coach them really hard."
That’s also been the strategy this week for completing drives in the red zone.
"That’s what it comes down to, execution," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "The more practice the more we’ll execute. We’re really close. That’s definitely something we’ve been waiting for. I feel it coming."
Ohio State has six touchdowns and six field goals to show for 16 trips inside the 20.
"Red-zone production, we’ve spent more time than normal on it (in practice)," Meyer said.
The Terrapins (2-3, 0-1) might be the elixir. Maryland is 110th in total defense, allowing 449.4 yards per game and are 103rd (199.8) against the rush.
Elliott ran for 274 yards last week in the 34-27 victory over Indiana but overall the offense has lacked consistency. He said not to worry.
"The way we progressed last year was perfect," he said. "You never want to peak too early in the season. You look at this time last year. We were probably in the same place if not behind."
Ohio State entered the fourth game last season at Maryland with a 2-1 record and still feeling its way with new quarterback J.T. Barrett, who took over after Braxton Miller sustained a season-ending shoulder injury before the first game.
The Buckeyes won 52-24 and had 533 total yards, 267 through the air by Barrett. He also threw for four touchdowns and ran for another.
"That was one of the best games we played last year," Meyer said.
Despite Ohio State being nearly a five-touchdown favorite vs. Maryland, linebacker Cam Williams expects the Terrapins to be at their finest.
"When you’re playing against Ohio State, you’re playing against the defending champions and all that stuff, people get caught up in it," he said, "We’re going to get their best shot. We’re going to get the best shots from the coaches, from the players."