Ohio State opened its conference schedule with its first trip to College Park, Maryland as division foes to the Terrapins. The Buckeyes were looking to prove that their offense could do what it did to Cincinnati against better competition, while the Terps were looking to make a statement in front of their first sellout crowd since 2008.
Randy Edsall’s bunch entered its conference opener 4-1 (1-0 in B1G play), with only a narrow loss to West Virginia marring their record. They boasted serious playmakers like Stefon Diggs and Deon Long and running quarterback C.J. Brown was deemed healthy enough to start after suffering an injury a week ago at Indiana on his non-throwing hand.
Would the Ohio State defense continue to give up big plays? Could the Buckeye offense continue rolling against the best defense it would see since Virginia Tech? Would Diggs make the Buckeyes pay for failing to land him as a recruit? Could the OSU defensive line step up and play more consistently?
Only one, yes, not too much, and for the most part, yes. A missed assignment (it appeared to be by Cam Burrows) allowed a long pass play for Maryland, although this one didn’t go for a touchdown—until the next play, anyway. Aside from that, the secondary mostly played well.
The offense racked up 533 yards (264 passing, 269 rushing) and generally stopped itself the few times it was stopped. Diggs finished with seven receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown, but was quiet throughout the first half and didn’t break any big plays. The defensive line accounted for three sacks, pressured Maryland’s quarterbacks often and helped hold the Terps to 66 rushing yards.
Here are your talking points:
Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)
Ohio State scored on four its first five drives (failing only on a missed 48-yard field goal) and was never seriously challenged. Seven different Buckeyes (Rod Smith, Jalin Marshall, Michael Thomas, Nick Vannett, Devin Smith, J.T. Barrett and Raekwon McMillan) scored touchdowns. Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Doran Grant and Raekwon McMillan all intercepted passes for the opportunistic Buckeyes in their 52-24 win. Barrett threw for 28 and four scores and Ezekiel Elliott carried 24 times for 139 yards (5.8 YPA).
Talk before the game
“They’re the most athletic defense we’ll face so far this year.” — Urban Meyer on Maryland
Maryland was calling it the biggest game in their history. Because playing the No. 20 team in the country is as good as it gets.
The Buckeye backfield would enter the game a bit shorthanded.
Curtis Samuel, not dressed for today. pic.twitter.com/ediEsgtKjW— Patrick Maks (@maksimuspatrick) October 4, 2014
In the lead-up, Maryland was feeling it.
Talk in the aftermath
Where you at, Maryland?
In Maryland, went to the game, have yet to see actual Maryland fans.— Dima (@suckatsports) October 4, 2014
Proof the players notice the good work by the fans:
I love #BuckeyeNation. They make every game feel like a home game. Love when they do the O-H-I-O around other teams stadiums. Thank you!— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) October 4, 2014
Big Bear echoed what we were all thinking:
That was fun— Joey Bosa (@jbbigbear) October 4, 2014
Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)
Barrett was held under 300 yards passing, but he still went 18/23 (78.3%) for 267 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception. He also rushed for 71 yards and another score. All in all, he accounted for 338 yards of total offense and five touchdowns as he continues to look like anything but a freshman. He remains on pace to break the school records for yards and touchdowns in a season.
Did you see that?! (Play of the game)
There were a lot of candidates here, including the interceptions by Lee and McMillan and Cardale Jones leaping a defender. But in the end, I couldn’t pick against Thomas’s touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. Leaping high over defender Will Likely, who was draped all over him, Thomas grabbed Barrett’s pass with 12:09 to play in the second quarter and landed on the tips of both toes before stepping out of the back of the end zone. His great footwork extended Ohio State’s lead to 21-3 at the time.
Slobber Knocker of the Game
Doran Grant grabbed a deflected pass and raced toward the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, almost scoring. On the return, teammate Tommy Schutt threw a block on running back Wes Brown, who was trailing the runner. The play was actually flagged as a personal foul. You can judge it for yourself, but either way it was a heck of a hit.
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game
With Ohio State leading 14-3, Barrett drove the offense down the field while Tressel worked on a haiku. As Tressel looked for a final line to finish up another one of his award-winning Japanese poems, the drive stalled and Sean Nuernberger came on to attempt a 48-yard field goal. It was no chip-shot, but Das Boot left it right the whole way. Incensed, Tressel finished his haiku thusly:
The butterfly floats
High on thermals, warm and soft
WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?
When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)
Maryland had a first down with 1:12 to play in the first half at its own 7-yard line. The Terrapins decided to come out throwing. C.J. Brown stared down his receiver and Lee stepped in front of the pass, caught it and headed for the end zone. In his haste, he forgot about securing the ball and it was stripped from his grasp. If not for McMillan rescuing him by scooping up the loose ball, Lee might have given it right back. Ball security, young man. Just listen to your mom.
Somebody had the ball hanging out.High and tight boo boo #Buckeyes— candice (@candicenbc4) October 4, 2014
What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter
First: “Outstanding, aside from the kickoff out of bounds.”
Second: “Jim Delany should never be interviewed in-game again. That was painful.”
Third: “There are a lot of empty seats and a giant M in the stadium. Maryland or Michigan?”
Fourth: “This team keeps getting better and better.”
It was over when
After Diggs cut Ohio State’s lead to 45-24 with a four-yard touchdown reception, Maryland forced a Cameron Johnston punt and the Terrapins took over with 9:06 to play, looking to close the gap even more. But on the first play of the drive Caleb Rowe’s pass was deflected to McMillan, who scored from 19 yards out. The lead grew to 52-24 and Maryland was officially finished.
The Buckeyes get a Saturday off on Oct. 11 before they host the other B1G newbie, Rutgers (5-1, 1-1), in their home conference opener on the 18th. The Scarlet Knights hosted Michigan last night, coming away with a 26-24 win for their first ever B1G victory. It will be the first conference road game for Rutgers, which, like Ohio State, has next week off.