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Maryland last Test for No. 2 Ohio State ahead of Michigan

Before hitting 10 points combined over the past two weeks, Maryland was third in the Big Ten in points behind Ohio State and Michigan.

Now the Terrapins are seventh, but they still have a talented group of talented players led by quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and receivers Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demos Jr.

“The quarterback is a really good scrambler and playmaker,” said Ohio State defense coordinator Jim Knowles. “Maybe he’s a bit bruised and that’s why they fought a little bit, but I think everything flows through him and he’s dangerous. And they have experienced wide receiver and tight end guys, their dual goals. So they are dangerous in a spread attack. I can understand why they played well. Maybe they haven’t done that lately but if you look at the season as a whole it gives you reason to believe you’re better prepared.”

2. Knowles doesn’t seem to care.

Ohio State ranks in the national top 10 for goal defense, total defense and pass defense, but the Buckeyes aren’t exactly grappling with a series of killer offenses.

With the Michigan game still out there, Knowles doesn’t care either way.

“I’m not really looking at rankings or anything until the end of the year because that’s the only thing that’s real — when you look back and see how you’ve stacked up against other people,” Knowles said. “So all you have to do is take it week by week with whoever you play against and have great habits that turn into a lifestyle, a behavior and an attitude.

“It’s always the same no matter who you play against or what rank they’re in and if you ever look past someone because they’re not the right rank, you’re in trouble. So I like our progress. We still have a lot to do, but I like what we have achieved so far.”

3. Maryland head coach Mike Locksley put his team through its paces this week.

After being handled by Wisconsin and blasted by Penn State, the Terps had a team meeting that produced news that pleased the fourth-year head coach.

“What I got and saw was that the culture of this team is going in the direction that we want to go because I’ve seen a lot of kids stand up and take responsibility for their game,” Locksley told reporters in college Park .

“We took the next step with the way our players reacted because they are not happy with their game. And then they took responsibility just like I did as the program leader.”

4. Locksley wants his team to go after CJ Stroud.

Maryland is just 75th in the nation in sacks per game (2.1), but he sees the run on the Ohio State quarterback as key to Saturday’s win.

“The games that they’ve lost here over the years that I’ve been able to evaluate have allowed them to get the quarterback down and effectively trouble him,” Locksley said. “He’s the guy that makes things work and he’s a special player, so we’re going to do some things that we can try to influence that quarterback with.”

5. Day will continue to build a balanced offensive.

Ohio State will likely always lean on the quarterback as long as Day is the head coach, but he and his staff have come together to be able to beat teams in multiple ways this season after being historically pass-heavy in 2021.

He admitted he might have been too stubborn about running the ball against stacked fronts in close-range situations, but Day is hoping it all pays off in the end.

“We’ve worked hard this year to have multiple staff groups,” Day said. “We have multiple options to attack you within these groupings – vertically, horizontally – and if you can do that and feel like you have outside weapons and you’re in one-on-one situations, you have a great opportunity chance to be explosive. The minute they need to double them or help them, that opens up the running game.

“So when you find that balance, I think that’s where our strength lies, and I feel like we’ve worked hard to achieve that balance.”

SATURDAY GAME

State of Ohio in Maryland, 3:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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