Bill Rabinowitz is the Ohio State football beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch. He's also the author of a book about the Buckeyes' 2014 national championship season titled "The Chase: How Ohio State Captured the First College Football Playoff." With Maryland set to play at the No. 1 Buckeyes for Ohio State's homecoming game Saturday, he was kind enough to answer a few questions to preview the game.
Both Maryland and Ohio State have quarterback issues, but it's in very, very different fashion. What's the expectation for Saturday's game? Is Cardale Jones still 'the guy'? Will we see J.T. Barrett at all?
Cardale Jones is clearly the guy. The Indiana game was the first in which J.T. Barrett didn't play, and Jones was far from flawless. Urban Meyer said he didn't contemplate replacing Jones against the Hoosiers.
Ezekiel Elliott was dominant in the second half against Indiana. What's made him so good during his career? How would Maryland stop him?
Elliott is a special back. Saturday's 274-yard game was his fourth 200-yard game in Ohio State's last eight games. He's strong enough to fight for yards when there's nothing there. He has excellent vision and anticipation. He's almost impossible to arm tackle. And unusual for a 225-pounder, he's able to sustain his speed even at the end of long runs. He had TD carries of 55, 65 and 75 yards on Saturday. Yet Elliott might be even better without the ball. He is an effective and relentless blocker. As for Maryland stopping him, it'll be difficult. Gang-tackling is the best bet.
The Maryland offense has scored six points over the past two games and hasn't looked cohesive at all. Is there a weakness on the Ohio State defense that can be exploited?
Not a systemic one. When Chris Ash was hired as co-coordinator in 2014, the Buckeyes installed a more aggressive pass defense designed to challenge every throw. With a front four led by Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington, the Buckeyes don't need to blitz a lot. When they do, Darron Lee is superb at it. The Buckeyes haven't been perfect. Northern Illinois had success running up the middle against Ohio State, which was surprising. They've been prone to costly penalties. But Ohio State plays fast and swarms to the ball.
Between Jones, Barrett, Elliott, Bosa, Lee and the like, Ohio State has plenty of big names on both sides of the ball. Is there anyone that flies a little under the radar that could have a big game for Ohio State? Who else should Maryland fans familiarize themselves with?
Curtis Samuel gets overlooked, but the hybrid back is quite dangerous. Fellow hybrid Dontre Wilson has played better lately after being a disappointment his first two seasons. On defense, defensive end Tyquan Lewis is an emerging star and has benefited from the extra attention offenses must pay to Joey Bosa. Backup defensive end Sam Hubbard is another guy who's made an impact. He's a former lacrosse player.
Is there anything to Urban Meyer not mentioning Maryland in his Monday press conference?
Not really. I don't think it was a deliberate slight. It might have a case of "if you can't say anything nice...," but there was enough that needed to be addressed following the Indiana game that it's more about the Buckeyes for Ohio State than any opponent. And you can blame us in the media as well. Nobody asked him about Maryland. I know that he does have respect for Randy Edsall, the pride of Glen Rock, Pa. (I proudly worked for 10 years at the York Daily Record.)
BONUS QUESTION: This is Maryland's first trip to Columbus. What should Terps fans making the trip do or see during their weekend in Columbus?
Ohio Stadium, dubbed the Horseshoe because that was the original shape of the stadium before the south stands were filled in, is one of the iconic football stadiums in the country. Walk around and stop at the Rotunda. The place was built in 1922 and renovated in 1999. As for Columbus, people are surprised by what a nice city it is. It's the 15th largest in the country and there's a lot to do. The hip section of town is called the Short North, just north of downtown and south of campus. Get some Jeni's ice cream. There are tons of great restaurants. If you like shopping, Easton Town Center is a nice outdoor mall. The NHL's Blue Jackets open their season Friday night at Nationwide Arena against the Rangers. If you can scrounge up a ticket, go. They're finally going to be good this year, we think.