Exhale. Ohio State was able to go into Maryland and come out with a win. If I told you that, with no other details, before the game, you'd probably be happy.
So let's debrief.
The Short Story
This game had everything. Maryland went up 14-3 after two long touchdown runs from Anthony McFarland: 81 yards, and 75 yards.
After some back-and-forth scoring, and a J.K. Dobbins fumble inside the five-yard line, Maryland took a 24-17 lead into the half.
On Ohio State's first drive of the third quarter, Dwayne Haskins pass was tipped and intercepted, resulting in a pick-six.
Ohio State finally tied it up in the fourth quarter when Haskins found K.J. Hill for a six-yard touchdown. After more back-and-forth scoring, Ohio State found themselves down seven with just two minutes left. After a Demario McCall long kickoff return, the Buckeyes marched down the field and Haskins found Binjimen Victor with 40 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After the Buckeyes converted a fourth-down in overtime on a pass from Haskins to Rashod Berry, Haskins ran it in from five yards out. Maryland quickly answered, but Tyrell Pigrome's pass for the two-point conversion was off the mark, and the Buckeyes survived.
What a day it was for Dwayne Haskins. The sophomore quarterback played his first career game in his home state of Maryland, and didn't disappoint in front of the local crowd.
Haskins was 28/38 through the air for 405 yards and three touchdowns, plus a pick-six off a tipped pass. The biggest surprise, however, came on the ground, where Haskins rushed for three touchdowns on 59 yards, including this score which went down as the game-winner in overtime.
J.K. Dobbins was also a beast of his own. With Mike Weber sitting out due to a calf injury, Dobbins rumbled to 203 yards (a career high) on 37 carries (a career high), and added a score.
Johnnie Dixon (102) and Terry McLaurin (118 and a touchdown) both went over the century mark on the day. Binjimen Victor caught a touchdown pass, as did K.J. Hill.
After allowing just six points to Michigan State a week ago, it was a massive regression for the Ohio State defense, who continued to give up chunk play after chunk play.
Maryland running back Anthony McFarland rushed for 298 yards and two touchdowns, including runs of 81 and 75 yards. McFarland's rushing total was the second most in history against Ohio State, trailing only Tim Biakabatuka's 313 yard performance in 1995.
The only thing saving Ohio State's defense is that Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome missed a wide-open receiver on the two point conversion (although an ineligible man downfield penalty probably should have been called on Maryland's right tackle, who was blocking Brendon White in the end zone well before the pass was thrown).
Who Earned A Buckeye Leaf?
Offense: Dwayne Haskins
Could it be anyone else? Haskins put on an incredible performance yesterday, making accurate throws all day long. Greg McElroy repeatedly mentioned on the broadcast how some of the throws Haskins was making could be considered "NFL throws," and I am inclined to agree with him.
Haskins played one of his best games of the season, and the 464 total yards he put up ranks second in school history for a single game.
Haskins put Ohio State on his back, and if he continues to run the ball semi-effectively like he did yesterday, watch out.
Honorable Mention: J.K. Dobbins, Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon
Defense: Dre'Mont Jones
Ohio State's defense did not play especially well yesterday. That's probably an understatement. But Jones seemed to be in the Maryland backfield when it mattered, especially towards the end of regulation after Maryland completed a long pass play to get close to field goal range.
Jones finished with four tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.
I have two for this section. Double the fun!
1. Dwayne Haskins Actually Has Legs
Coming into the game, had I told you that Dwayne Haskins would rush for 59 yards and three touchdowns, you would have laughed me out of the room. Well the big guy did jus that, putting the team on his back for the win. Perhaps the Buckeyes giving Tate Martell more snaps is what made Haskins finally use his legs. However it happened, I'll take it.
2. Maryland's Offense
I knew Ohio State's defense was bad, but I certainly was not expecting a Maryland offense, with a backup quarterback, to score 44 points on Ohio State (before you get mad, remember Maryland had a pick-six). Anthony McFarland rushing for 298 yards was bonkers, and I guess if there's good news it's that this defense cannot possibly get much worse... right?
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment
Tress woke up on Saturday in a good mood. Last week, he was thrilled with the performance of Drue Chrisman and the Ohio State defense, and even talked to Eleven Warriors about it.
So after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, a bagel, and a glass of orange juice, Jim and Ellen got settled in and prepared to watch the Buckeyes.
Maryland scored first on an 81-yard touchdown. "No matter", said Tress, "that was a fluke. It will be corrected." After Blake Haubiel hit a 36-yard field goal (which Jim was obviously thrilled about), Anthony McFarland bolted to the end zone for a 75-yard score!
Jim was irate. After the showing Ohio State put on last week, he figured it would be another similar effort this time around.
The teams then traded scores before Maryland lined up for a punt with 14:55 in the fourth quarter at the Ohio State 46 yard line. Jim knew what was going to happen. He started screaming at the television, before Ellen reminded him that Urban Meyer couldn't actually hear what Jim was saying.
Of course, Maryland successfully executed a fake punt, and got the first down. Tress was done. Hopefully he tunes in next week.
The Offensive Line
Outside of a few penalties, Ohio State's offensive line what quite solid in this one. Despite Thayer Munford having to leave the game, and Joshua Alabi replacing him, the offensive line opened up holes all day for J.K. Dobbins, and kept Dwayne Haskins safe from pressure for the most part (Haskins was only sacked once).
The slobs will need a similar effort next week, as Michigan and their elite front seven is up next.
When Binjimen Victor is thrown to, he catches the ball and makes impact plays. We saw it against Penn State, and we saw it again yesterday, as Victor caught both of his targets for 41 yards and a score. It's time to get him the ball more.
Biggest Question Going Forward
Well, there isn't much "going forward" left. It's now or never for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will probably be underdogs at home for their clash against Michigan, and my question is this: Will Urban Meyer pull out all of the stops to beat Michigan?
The last time I saw an Ohio State offense win with trickery and hoopla was against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan's defense is the best in the country. The Buckeyes may need some trickeration again.