Ohio State began its 11th game week of the season Monday, and that can only mean one thing.
Urban Meyer needed to talk to his team about not thinking about the ninth-ranked Buckeyes’ 12th game week of the season yet.
The latter, of course, will lead up to a game against Michigan.
With the Buckeyes and Wolverines (No. 4) both in the top 10 this week, the 115th meeting between them looks like it will be another barnburner — not to mention the de facto Big Ten East championship game.
There is business to attend to first, though, as both are taking on 5-5 squads hungry to play spoiler and attain postseason eligibility.
Ohio State plays at Maryland at noon Saturday with Michigan hosting Indiana at 4.
By noon Monday, Meyer had already had the, “Lets focus on the Terrapins” talk with his players, who were still feeling good about a 26-6 win over then-No. 24 Michigan State in week 10.
“I think this is one of the more talented teams in the Big Ten,” Meyer said. “They beat Texas early on. They are extremely good skill (players). They just had a guy rush for 200 yards. Their defense is a top 20 defense. Our guys watched film.”
The Terrapins have already won one more game than last year despite having to deal with a tragedy and a coaching change.
Jordan McNair, a sophomore offensive lineman from Randallston, Md., died in June after suffering heatstroke during a team workout two weeks earlier.
A subsequent independent investigation commissioned by the university found trainers had not responded properly to McNair’s symptoms, which are treatable if recognized early enough.
Director of football sports performance Rick Court, who spent two years at Ohio State working for Meyer, left the school as part of the fallout, and head coach D.J. Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave.
Another investigation into allegations of abusive coaching tactics by Durkin and his staff did not find a “toxic culture” under his watch “but was problematic to where players feared speaking out,” according to the Associated Press.
Durkin was reinstated Oct. 31 only to be fired a day later following an intense negative reaction from the university community and beyond.
Somehow the Terrapins have still managed to have a solid football season under interim coach Matt Canada.
Though they have struggled offensively, the defense ranks 30th in the country in yards allowed per game and 55th in points allowed per game (25.4). The pass defense is No. 18 national in yards and 20th in efficiency.
Anthony McFarland, a 5-foot-8, 193-pound redshirt freshman from famed DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, headlines a running game that is 18th in the country at 234.9 yards per game.
He had 210 yards last week as the Terps lost to Indiana 34-32.
“Our guys are very intelligent players here,” Meyer said. “I do worry about staring at phones all day long, but they know what’s in store. And I can assure you focus is going to be to win that game at noon.”
Meyer, who gave Durkin his first job as a graduate assistant at Bowling Green in 2001, did not want to comment on the scandals at Maryland, but he acknowledged having a close relationship with him and his family.
He also said they had spoken but did not offer further details.
The 40-year-old Durkin, a Youngstown native who played at Bowling Green and was Michigan’s defensive coordinator for a season before accepting the Maryland head coach job in 2016, was 11-15 in his two seasons as head coach of the Terrapins.
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