COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Driven by the intensity of their coach and pushed by their own pursuit of perfection, Ohio State’s players said after their 62-3 win over Maryland on Saturday that they can play better.
Maryland’s reaction might have been something like, “Yeah, right.”
It might not have been perfect, but OSU’s second straight win by a 62-3 score was impressive.
The Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) scored 10 of the first 13 times they had the football and their defense held an opponent without a touchdown for the fifth time this season.
Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) was never in the game and most of its student section wasn’t in the stadium anymore by the time Ohio State went up 45-3 at halftime.
The Buckeyes rolled up 581 yards total offense and held the Terrapins to 176 yards even with OSU’s starters spending much of the final two quarters on the sideline one week after they put 62 points on Nebraska.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett (18 of 27 for 253 yards, two passing TDs, two rushing TDs) and H-back Curtis Samuel (two rushing touchdowns and another receiving) led the skill players.
But OSU coach Urban Meyer singled out the offensive and defensive lines when he analyzed his team’s second consecutive November outburst.
“We have a nice rotation at defensive line. Our offensive line is playing much better in the last two weeks. Offensive football is dictated by the offensive line. When they’re playing the way they’re playing right now, that’s pretty good,” Meyer said.
Maryland’s last two weeks have been the polar opposite of Ohio State’s. The Terrapins were beaten 59-3 by Michigan last Saturday.
“It was just back-to-back weeks where the game got away from us early,” Maryland coach D.J. Durkin said.
It was over by halftime when Ohio State led 45-3. Actually it was done long before halftime. Whether it was 45-3 or 35-3 or 28-3, it was obvious Maryland didn’t have the talent to come back on Ohio State when it was playing as well as it was on Saturday.
Even when Maryland did something well in the first half – and that wasn’t very often – it was often followed by a negative play by the Terrapins.
Maybe the most glaring example came late in the second quarter.
With Ohio State already up 28-3, Maryland stopped Ohio State short on fourth down at the Terrapins’ 30-yard line. But on the first play after the change of possession, Marshon Lattimore intercepted Caleb Rowe’s pass, setting up yet another Ohio State touchdown drive that made it 35-3 with four minutes left in the half.
Maryland also cost itself at least one, maybe two touchdowns with penalties in the first half.
On Ohio State’s first offensive play, Maryland’s J.C. Jackson appeared to get an interception and took it to the end zone, but he was flagged for pass interference.
Later in the quarter, with Ohio State leading 14-0, Maryland had a fourth-and-one situation at the one-yard line, but a false start penalty set them back five yards and it had to settle for a field goal, its only points in the first half.
OSU safety Malik Hooker said, “This is November. This is when a lot of teams make it and a lot of teams don’t make it. We just have to go out there and take it week by week. I definitely feel like we’re improving every week.”
Barrett said, “We just go out there and play our best. If we play our best, the score is like this.”
The Buckeyes’ offense looks very different than it did when it was struggling to some degree against Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern.
Barrett said he wasn’t worried back then. He says he knew the offense would come around.
“I really wasn’t sweating it. I wasn’t sweating it at all. When it comes to November we’re going to play our best ball and I think we’re doing that,” he said.
He’d probably get no disagreement from Maryland or Nebraska about that.