Ohio State’s offense has been “damn near perfect” in its last two games.
That’s what Chris Olave said after the Buckeyes’ 66-17 win over Maryland on Saturday, and that’s not hyperbole.
For the second week in a row, the only time Ohio State’s offense came away without points with the first-team offense in the game was when the Buckeyes allowed the clock to run out at the end of the first half. Otherwise, the Buckeyes scored on all eight of their other possessions while C.J. Stroud was still in the game against Maryland; one week earlier at Rutgers, the Buckeyes scored six touchdowns and a field goal on eight possessions before Kyle McCord replaced Stroud.
Since Stroud has returned from taking a week off against Akron to rest his injured shoulder, Ohio State’s offense has hit its stride, to say the least. The Buckeyes, who already led the nation with 555.6 yards per game of total offense going into Saturday’s game, had 598 yards of offense against Maryland – 432 through the air and 166 on the ground – and scored more than 50 points for the third game in a row.
While Ohio State’s offense was always expected to be elite once again this year, the Buckeyes weren’t quite as efficient as they needed to be early in the season – specifically in their loss to Oregon, when they scored just 28 points despite 612 total yards of offense. Stroud’s first few starts of the season were inconsistent, and plenty of Ohio State fans thought the Buckeyes should change quarterbacks after he threw for just 185 yards in their third game against Tulsa.
Even in the immediate aftermath of that game, though, Stroud was confident Ohio State’s offense would take off.
“The execution starts with me, so I have to do my job better. I definitely have to execute the offense at a high level, so a perfect balance, we haven’t done it yet,” Stroud said after the Tulsa game. “And I feel like we’ll be the best offense in the country if we can do that.”
Three weeks later, Ohio State’s offense really does look like the best in the country.
Stroud has thrust himself into the forefront of the Heisman race by completing more than 73 percent of his passes for 736 yards and 10 touchdowns in Ohio State’s last two games. True freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson has positioned himself as a Heisman contender, too, as he’s now up to 785 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in the first six games of his career. The wide receiver trio of Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba has also lived up to the hype, as they’ve now combined for 1,492 yards and 16 touchdowns on 84 catches through six games.
Stroud isn’t quite ready to say the Buckeyes have the best offense in the country yet, but he thinks they’re progressing toward becoming that.
“We have a lot more work to do,” Stroud said. “I definitely think that we’re putting up the numbers and we’re doing the right things. And we practice harder than anybody, man. We grind, and it just feels good to have it pay off. So if we can be the best offense in the country, I think that’s definitely something that we can reach. If we just keep the same momentum and keep practicing well, then I think we’ll achieve that.”
Olave has already been a part of three great Ohio State offenses with Dwayne Haskins in 2018 and Justin Fields in 2019 and 2020, and he believes this year’s offense “can be scary and unstoppable.”
“We just gotta keep building and keep getting better,” Olave said.
As flawless as Ohio State’s first-team offense has been for the past two weeks, the Buckeyes are likely to face more resistance when they play teams like Penn State and Michigan than they did against Maryland and Rutgers. How they fare when they play some of the top defenses in the country will really show whether the Buckeyes have the best offense in the country.
Right now, though, Ohio State’s offense is certainly firing on all cylinders. Stroud and his receivers have found their rhythm, Henderson is making big plays week in and week out and Ohio State’s offensive line is providing excellent pass protection while paving holes in the run game.
“It’s everybody across the board,” Ryan Day said of Ohio State’s offensive excellence. “Certainly when we’re executing at a high level, we got a chance to be pretty good on offense.”
“We can be the best offense in the country, I think that’s definitely something that we can reach. If we just keep the same momentum and keep practicing well, then I think we’ll achieve that.”– C.J. Stroud
Ohio State will need to play well in all three phases of the game to achieve its biggest goals, and its defense had a strong showing on Saturday too, holding Maryland to just 17 points on 335 yards while scoring a defensive touchdown for the fourth consecutive game on a Craig Young pick-six.
The reason the Buckeyes are starting to look like a team that really can contend for a national championship, though, is because they have an elite offense that should be able to outscore just about anybody – and that’s something everyone on Ohio State’s roster likes seeing.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” linebacker Cody Simon said of Ohio State’s offense. “I love the offense. They get us better every day. The reason we are where we’re at is because of them. They get us better every day in practice. They’re so electrifying, and it’s fun watching from the sideline.”