For many Ohio State supporters, the goals of Saturday’s trip to Maryland were to secure a win, gain some confidence and avoid further injury.
Well, the Buckeyes won.
The 43-30 win over the spirited Terrapins set the stage for a showdown for the undefeated side as Michigan travel to Columbus next week with a college football playoff berth at stake. But running back TreVeyon Henderson finished another game in a walking boot, quarterback CJ Stroud had a bad limp and guard Matthew Jones had to be replaced after suffering a lower body injury.
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As for confidence, well, coach Ryan Day didn’t seem filled with much bravery afterwards.
Freshman Dallan Hayden was the day’s hero, coming off the bench and rushing for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
How did the Buckeyes fare in their win over Maryland? Hands are awarded on a zero-to-five basis.
Ohio State Offensive (2 sheets)
Day’s entry for understatement of the year came right after the final whistle, when he said: “We didn’t quite get the running game going in the first half.”
The Buckeyes rushed just 28 yards before halftime for a 2.2 per carry average. Henderson, who was visibly suffering from the foot injury that caused him to miss the last two games, rushed for just 19 yards on 11 carries, a 1.7-yard average. After Miyan Williams was injured, OSU eventually put Henderson back and gave the ball to Hayden, and he had 143 yards after halftime.
Although Hayden had success, the Buckeyes again chose to play with a three-point lead and less than 7 minutes, throwing for fourth and fourth place, and the game was unsuccessful.
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The first half was a mess, especially on the second and third drives. A delay in play came before the second possession began and a false start ensued. The third started with a fiddly handover change and then a false start. The Buckeyes were down 13-10 at halftime.
Ohio State Defense (3 sheets)
For most of the season, Maryland’s offense was dangerous. But not in the last two weeks. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was again sensational against Ohio State. In the first half he was 16-18 for 180 yards and a touchdown, and he finished 26-36 for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score. He was constantly buying time with his legs and looked a lot like an NFL quarterback.
The Terps managed just 2.7 yards per carry, which could give the Buckeyes some confidence going into a faceoff game next week. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg was very good with a total of 13 tackles and 10 solos. Zach Harrison dominated the final possession with two sacks, shattering the Terps’ last hopes of a comeback.
Ohio State Special Teams (3 sheets)
There was a great blocked punt from Lathan Ransom and a deft 46-yard kickoff return from Xavier Johnson. But a blocked PAT returned by Maryland for two points should never happen.
The Buckeyes are credited with getting the field goal team back in the game late in the game and confident that the blocked kick would not happen again.
coaching (1 sheet)
The first half was sloppy on offense, with the game delaying to start possession and another on the two-point conversion effort. After the latter penalty was awarded, Day sent out the kicking team, and the result was the block and two-point conversion the other way. The Buckeyes had 11 penalties for 97 yards.
It wasn’t clear why Day kept Henderson in the game for so long. He hobbled noticeably after his touchdown in the first quarter and was hesitant on runs in the first half. A limping running back has no chance against fast defenders.
Tagovailoa was great on defense, but OSU’s cornerbacks gave plenty of cushion and allowed for some easy first-down throws.
Fun Quotient (5 Sheets)
The threat of a big surprise is always pleasant, especially when a quarterback is clearly outclassing his Heisman frontrunner opponent.
Maryland terrapins (3 sheets)
The terps are fun and put in a lot of effort, but they’re just so undisciplined. They had 10 penalties for 96 yards and some were just plain stupid. With 4:17 to play and 33-30 behind, they had Ohio State in a third and 2, but Vandarius Cowan jumped for offside to keep a long drive alive. Early in the game, defender Tommy Akingbesote pinned Stroud to the ground after a game so late the officials almost missed it.
There was also an issue with coaching discipline as the Terps didn’t have a timeout in the last three minutes.
Also, Ohio State ended the half by being flagged for offside, which would allow the Terps another game, and Maryland declined. Why not run another one?
Officiate (3 sheets)
Referees had good review experience confirming a catch by Marvin Harrison Jr. and nullifying a Maryland interception in the second quarter. But Maryland had every right to be upset with a pass-interference flag on Jakorian Bennett while he was guarding Julian Fleming in the third quarter. It looked like a good defense, and as the drive resumed at Ohio State, the backfield official received several death glares from Maryland coach Mike Locksley.