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Ohio State will win at Maryland — but defense will determine by how much

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Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper and the Buckeyes are looking for a big win at Maryland. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Question Of The Day

Ohio State will win at Maryland — but defense will determine by how much

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the prediction for the visit to Maryland? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

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Ohio State is once again a double-digit favorite over a Big Ten opponent. (Bovada/Courtesy)

Ohio State has paid the proper respect to its opponent all week long. A lot of it the talk that Maryland can pose a challenge to the most talented team in the Big Ten was even true.

Whether it’s due to DJ Durkin’s sneaky game-plan assistance or not, Maryland has posted some impressive numbers and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in total defense. Despite yet another injury at the most important position on the field, it has a dual-threat weapon ready to be unleashed — and mobile quarterbacks have been kryptonite for the Buckeyes for a while now. And if there was any question about Maryland’s ability to rise up and claim some upsets, just ask Texas about all the fun it’s had over the last two seasons.

But the Buckeyes have answers for all of that, most notably with one of the most diverse offensive attacks in the country. If they decide they want to run the football more with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber like they have over the last couple weeks, they finally appear to have found the right schemes to get it done. If they want Dwayne Haskins to rewrite the record books in his personal homecoming game, Maryland probably isn’t the team who can stop him from doing it. And if Ohio State wants to give Michigan a lot to think about heading into The Game, it can easily dial up more Tate Martell packages and throw a bunch of exotic formations on the field along the way as well.

Tate Martell-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State will likely sprinkle in more work for Tate Martell at Maryland. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State is going to score. And after a week of dealing with potential distractions, it’s not likely to be caught off guard by Maryland’s best effort having watched the tape and seen what has happened to the Longhorns. So, that leaves the defense to determine exactly what type of outcome the Buckeyes can produce.

Were those signs of progress against Michigan State legitimate? Are the Silver Bullets on the brink of putting everything together right when they need it the most? Based on the addition of Brendon White at safety, the rise of the linebackers, what appears to be more flexibility in the defensive scheme since the embarrassment at Purdue and the improvement in fundamentals at every level, it certainly seems like Ohio State is back on track on that side of the ball.

But the proof will come on Saturday afternoon. And if the Ohio State defense does what it’s capable of against Maryland, it might finally be time for the College Football Playoff selection committee to take notice of a title contender — and for Michigan to get ready for a fight.

The Pick: Ohio State 41, Maryland 17.

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To me, it all depends on which Maryland team decides to show up – the team that beat Texas, or the team that got pummeled by Temple. I think Maryland has the skill to give Ohio State a run for its money and seeing as it’s Senior Day, I think emotions will be high for the Terps. I think Matt Canada has the offensive mind to beat Ohio State’s still struggling defense. However, I think Ohio State has too much talent. Ryan Day will make sure Haskins gets the passing yardage he needs to set the single-season passing record. Ohio… Read more »

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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