Buckeyes positive as season heads down home stretch
COLUMBUS — While the perception outside of the Buckeye State by many is that Ohio State is struggling, the feeling amongst those inside the program is one of optimism and hope.
With one victory standing in the way between the Buckeyes and a showdown at home against Michigan for the Big Ten’s East Division title and a spot in the conference championship game, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is preferring to look at the glass as half full as the regular season enters the home stretch.
“You go on the road and win by 20 points against a ranked team,” he said this week. “Someone said it’s our eighth ranked win on the road. And what happened? What’s the problem? What about this? What about that? I could stand up here and say ‘What are you guys talking about?’ But I get it. I don’t think we played great, either, at times.”
Still, the Buckeyes prevailed and stand two wins away from, perhaps, reaching the goal they set at the start of the season — the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State still sits 10th in the CFP rankings, meaning lots of things have to fall its way for it to make the playoff. But victories in their final two games will likely earn the Buckeyes a trip to Pasadena.
But before Ohio State can think about Michigan, it has to contend with a Maryland team that needs one bowl victory triumph to become bowl eligible. At 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the conference, the Terps have stood tall in the face of much adversity.
“I had a chat with the team (about looking ahead),” Meyer said this week. “I think this is one of the more talented teams in the Big Ten. They beat Texas early on. They are extremely skilled. They just had a guy rush for 200 yards. Their defense is a top 20 defense.”
The tale of the tape reveals Maryland, although its record might not show it, among the leaders nationally in rushing yards per game (234.9, 18th) and total defense (343.2, 30th).
The Terps offense, however, took a major hit this week when quarterback Kasim Hill was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL sustained in last week’s loss at Indiana.
While the Hoosiers’ quarterback situation is in flux, as Tyrrell Pigrome gets the start Saturday in College Park, the Buckeyes continue to excel under the leadership of Dwayne Haskins.
Saturday will be a bit of a homecoming for Haskins, who played prep ball at nearby Bullis School in Potomac.
“I haven’t put too much thought into going home and playing,” he said Tuesday. “I know how serious this game is for us as a team, but I am looking forward to going back home.
“We play them (Maryland) every year. Even last year when we played them at home, there were some players talking some smack to me because of the relationship we have with each other. It’s going to be pretty cool to go against all the kids I knew back home.”
Meyer said Haskins continues to mature, on and off the field.
“I think his development has been very good to this point,” he said. “We’d like to see him catch fire again.”
“It’s just like when he has a great day, and usually he’s upright, not getting hit. Guys are making catches for him.”