Columbus, Ohio- Maryland came in with a chip on their shoulders and, for a good portion of the game, controlled the narrative; the score not being a true reflection of the effort put in by the Terps only solidifies the fact that Ohio State needs to get the high powered offense into fifth gear and quickly if they hope to contend for the Big 10 title. Miscues and missteps seem to be a part of the offensive equation at this point in the season, and it will take every ounce of effort to take the next step that many already expect to have occurred.
Throughout the first half of play, the Buckeyes looked like they were in real trouble. The first drive ended in a turnover on downs. Was it a fake punt or a bad snap? It doesn’t matter; the Terrapins were able to get the ball in enemy territory and promptly score. The rest of the Ohio State offensive drives only resulted in three points total in the first half. The offensive line struggled to get to their second-level blocks. Quarterback Kyle McCord looked more rusty than rested after a week off to prepare for this Terrapin defense. Luckily, defensive back Josh Proctor got a timely interception and returned it for a touchdown, allowing for what appeared to be a successful first half.
While Maryland head coach Mike Locksley came up with an impressive variation of defensive fronts that confused McCord in his sixth-ever start, Bucks coach Ryan Day is the king of second-half adjustments. The Terps may have scored first in the second half on a short scamper from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, but it was all Buckeye dominance after that.
The Bucks would go on a 27 unanswered point tear throughout the remainder of the game. Kyle McCord ended the day with over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air. Marvin Harrison Jr. reestablished his Heisman hopes, obliterating the Maryland defensive backfield for 168 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions. Offensive stats and the final score are great to look at, but the true heroes of this game were defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and his entire Silver Bullet squad. The Terp offense had no answers in the second half, looked outmatched, and was overwhelmed by the end.
The Buckeye defense will keep this team in games all season long. If Knowles and his defense can keep opponents to 17 points or less, Ryan Day’s offense will eventually be able to take over the game and cruise to many victories. The Bucks clearly missed superstar running back TreVeyon Henderson this week and never seemed to get in a rhythm. Moving forward, Day may need to dial up some different schemes to keep McCord comfortable in the pocket; relying on receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will be pivotal to their success in the coming weeks.
The Terrapins came into Columbus trying to prove a point that they belong at the top of the Big 10 conference, and throughout the vast majority of the game, head coach Locksley kept his team poised and ready to pounce on the Buckeyes’ mistakes. Losing by 20 points is not indicative of how well this team played from snap to snap. The Terps have proven that they will be a real threat to the elite schools in this conference; it's only a matter of time.
(3) Ohio State, 5-0 (2-0), will head to West Lafayette for another potential trap game against the Purdue Boilermakers 2-4 (1-2) on Saturday, October 14, at Noon, Eastern.
The Maryland Terrapins 5-1 (2-1) will host the Fighting Illini from the University of Illinois 2-4 (0-3) on Saturday, October 14, at 3:30 PM Eastern.
(Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images)