Welcome to the Thursday Skull Session.
Here's a fun fact to start your day: The previous two times Ohio State and Michigan played at Maryland the week before The Game, that team was the eventual winner of the rivalry matchup – the Buckeyes in 2018 and the Wolverines in 2021. Ohio State faces Maryland this weekend. Will the trend continue for a third straight time?
Only time will tell.
Let's have a good Thursday, shall we?
FOUR YEARS AGO. On Nov. 17, 2018, Ohio State was a completion from Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome to wide receiver Jeshaun Jones away from losing to the Terrapins, 53-52, in overtime at SECU Stadium. That result would have warranted an "Ohio State Buckeyes... What happened?" video from TikTok star James Droz afterward if it had happened today.
Ohio State SURVIVES after Maryland fails to connect on a 2-point conversion pic.twitter.com/cWXgVtNEqc— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 17, 2018
However, Pigrome's throw landed outside the outstretched arm of Jones, and Ohio State left College Park with a one-point win, avoiding what would have been one of the most stunning upsets in college football that season.
The primary reason for the Buckeyes' success against the Terrapins that year was the late Dwayne Haskins. A Maryland native, he threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns and added three more scores on the ground. After Haskins' untimely death in April, Ryan Day said that game was Haskins' best performance as a Buckeye – one that proved his growth as a quarterback and leader of the team.
After Dwayne Haskins' tragic death in April, Ryan Day said his favorite game Haskins played was vs. Maryland in 2018.— Chase Brown (@chaseabrown__) November 16, 2022
The Buckeyes won 52-51 in OT. Haskins threw for 405 yards + 3 TDs and ran for 3 TDs.
Ohio State returns to Maryland this week for the first time in four years. pic.twitter.com/sgpus72Prh
Haskins will likely be on every Ohio State coach and player's mind as they walk off the bus, go through warmups and face off against Maryland. I know he will be on mine as I watch them play.
EL GUAPO. On Wednesday, Ohio State on BTN posted an “On This Date” video for Nov. 16 and featured clips of Carlos Hyde's five-touchdown performance against Illinois in 2013. He also collected 246 yards on 24 carries and 26 yards from two catches.
Big Ten Network producer Brent Yarina quickly pointed out on Twitter that Hyde's 2013 season is slept on these days. When looking at his statistics from that year, it's pretty clear that's the case.
So Yarina's claim is valid. El Guapo was a bucket and a problem, and we don't talk about that enough, even here in Buckeye Nation.
Defenses had no answer for the 6-foot, 236-pound force of nature coming out of the Ohio State backfield. And had he not been suspended for the first three weeks of the season, Hyde could have torn up Buffalo, San Diego State and California – opponents the Buckeyes outscored 134-61 – and added even more yardage and touchdowns to his season totals.
But, in all reality, he's probably not too worried about what he could have added with those three weeks. What he produced in 11 games was enough to get him drafted No. 57 overall in the 2014 NFL draft by the 49ers. He played eight NFL seasons for San Francisco, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston and Seattle, so it all worked out in the end.
NO JAXON, NO PROBLEM. Nobody was expecting Jaxon Smith-Njigba to go down against Notre Dame in Week 1. Not Smith-Njigba, not Day – nobody. Since then, nine more games have taken place, with the star receiver not playing a significant role in any of them.
At his Tuesday press conference, Day said he's been proud of how Ohio State's receivers have stepped up in Smith-Njigba's absence, claiming it's been a great season to catch passes for the Buckeyes.
As it stands, the train that is the Buckeye receiver room has officially left the station. It adapted and has flourished with Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming as its top three options. When Smith-Njigba comes back this season, the train won't stop. Instead, he'll hop on the caravan as it moves.
I think that's a good thing for the Buckeyes. Would everyone inside and outside of the program have liked to see Smith-Njigba play every game this season? Of course. But has it also been great to see the emergence of Harrison as the best receiver in the nation, Egbuka come into his own and Fleming finally get healthy and perform at a high level? Absolutely.
It's been a roll-with-the-punches kind of year for Smith-Njigba, but I think he's poised for a big game whenever he returns to the field. Perhaps a few catches and some touchdowns against Michigan? One can certainly hope.
BEHIND THE STICKERS. Lathan Ransom has been excellent for Ohio State this season, and his electric performance against Indiana was the latest example. The third-year Buckeye was the featured player in Ohio State’s “stories behind the stickers” segment.
My favorite part of the video is Ransom honoring the people who have sacrificed so much to put him in the position to be where he is today.
My second favorite part is Ransom explaining that his punt block was not part of the initial game plan for the Ohio State special teams unit. Instead, Parker Fleming drew up the formation that led to the block on the fly.
Good coaching. Good execution. Good result.
Lathan Ransom with Ohio State's first blocked punt since the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/BW6l9mafnj— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 12, 2022
SONG OF THE DAY. “Wavin' Flag” by K’NAAN.
CUT TO THE CHASE. NASA capsule on the way to the moon after launch by a giant new rocket... Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson reflects on his career... New Harry Potter-themed land heading to an indoor theme park... What makes us dance? It is all about that bass... A pilot hangs out a window to retrieve a passenger's forgotten phone.