If there is one team in the country that can claim to surpass Ohio State when it comes to off-the-field tumult this year, it's Maryland.
It started with the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed during an offseason conditioning session. That was followed by an ESPN article questioning the treatment of other Terps players, the suspension of coach DJ Durkin, and an investigation into the program.
The report stemming from that investigation denied there was a toxic environment at College Park, but then described what sounded an awful lot like, well, a toxic environment.
As a result, university president Wallace Loh announced he would retire at the end of the school year, and Jim Brady resigned. Brady had been the chair of the Maryland Board of Regents, which first attempted to reinstate Durkin, only to change their decision after a backlash that was predictable to practically anyone not directly involved in the decision-making process.
Just this week, the Washington Post reported the school has hired a search firm to find Durkin's replacement.
It's unclear whether they will consider the man who has been leading the team this year, offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
He's held the team together admirably well--given the circumstances. Maryland beat then no. 23 Texas in the season opener, and they are one win shy of bowl eligibility. The path to the postseason, though, remains difficult for them. Today's game against Ohio State is their home finale, and they will follow that up with a trip to Penn State.
Also, despite Canada being the offensive coordinator, it's the defense that has largely carried the team. The Terps are ranked 29th nationally in yards allowed per game. They have the 18th best passing defense, and they are riding a streak of 10 straight contests in which they have recorded at least one interception.
Senior linebacker Tre Watson leads the team and is second in the country with five picks and senior defensive back Darnell Savage, Jr. has four more. Overall, they have the nation's best 17 INTs. Meanwhile junior defensive back Tino Ellis is tied for 20th nationally in passes defended (12).
They are not harassing opposing passers in other ways, though. They average a little under two sacks a game.
Offensively, they are relying on the run game, averaging around 235 rushing yards per game, good for 20th in the FBS.
They actually have a trio of backs they deploy, starting with talented freshman Anthony McFarland (72.4 yards/game), then Ty Johnson (56.22 yards/game), and finally sophomore Tayon Fleet-Davis (28.7 yards per game).
They can be explosive runners, too. Maryland has 20 rushes of 30+ yards, which is more than all but seven other teams.
Expect them to really turn to the run game this week as starting quarterback Kasim Hill is the latest signal caller to succumb to the curse on Terps quarterbacks and their anterior cruciate ligaments. He will be replaced by Tyrrell Pigrome, who is back after tearing his ACL last year, and is a fair decent runner himself. He has a rushing touchdown and averages 4.4 yards per carry on 38 carries this season.
The Buckeyes and Terrapins play at noon today.
- Freshman kicker Joseph Petrino is 10/10 on field goal attempts this season, making him the only kicker in the country to remain perfect at this point. His long is 40 yards.
- Maryland has won the last nine times they were leading at halftime.
- Ohio State has never scored fewer than 49 points in four previous meetings with the Terps.
- In addition to McFarland, Johnson and Fleet-Davis, Javon Leake has also recorded a 100+ yard rushing day this year, making it the first time in Maryland history they have four different 100-yard rushers in the same season.
- Maryland is a perfect 24/24 in the red zone this season. Only Navy is also 100 percent in that category.
- Not only does Watson lead the Big Ten in picks, he's also tops in the league in solo tackles per game (6.0).