COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The nonconference action is in the books, and while Maryland might not be a traditional Big Ten opponent, league play has officially arrived for Ohio State. Both teams are looking for an early leg up in the competitive East Division, and for the Buckeyes, they could use big outings from these guys likely to make an impact on the road on Saturday.
WR Devin Smith
The Terrapins have been pretty stingy most of the time defensively, but West Virginia made it abundantly clear there are yards to be had through the air as it piled up 511 to hand Maryland its only loss. Smith is a threat to sneak behind the secondary for a bomb at any moment, and with Ohio State's rushing attack starting to get rolling and defenses needing to creep up near the line of scrimmage to slow it down, there could be a couple of chances for the veteran target to make an impact and deliver one of his trademark long-range touchdowns. It also might help that Michael Thomas has emerged as a legitimate weapon at receiver as well, which should prevent teams from shifting the coverage toward Smith and allow him to get in advantageous one-on-one situations.
DE Joey Bosa
Even without another elite pass rusher at the other end of the line to take some of the pressure off him, the sophomore is still thriving and building a case as one of the most influential defensive linemen in the nation early in the season. Bosa has already forced three fumbles, all of which have led to points for the Buckeyes, and Maryland has had trouble at times providing protection up front in the passing game. The Terps have already allowed 10 sacks, and Bosa is more than capable of adding to that total and swinging a game with his frightening combination of strength and speed off the edge.
The coverage was solid, but the sophomore learned a valuable lesson last week about the importance of winning individual battles as the last line of defense. Bell was outdueled in a one-on-one showdown early in the win over Cincinnati, giving up a 60-yard touchdown that instantly brought back memories of Ohio State's struggles to defend the pass last year down the stretch. The safety is talented enough to take the Buckeyes to a higher level in the secondary, and his confidence hasn't appeared shaken after allowing the big play a week ago, which is important considering the tall task in front of the defense this week. Bell is going to have plenty of opportunities to prove he's capable of handling his responsibilities in the back end against Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and a productive outing from him will be critical for the Buckeyes.