No. 10 Ohio State got to Michigan week with a single loss, but in ugly fashion, defeating Maryland 52-51 in overtime in College Park. Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s win against the Terrapins.
Dobbins becomes featured back
Sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins knew he was going to be the featured back against Maryland. Redshirt junior Mike Weber, according to head coach Urban Meyer, suffered a quad bruise during the week, which got worse heading into the game on Saturday.
Going in, Dobbins and Weber were trading series, sharing the carries at the top of the depth chart. Even though it has worked in the past, Dobbins said he is more comfortable with being “the guy” in the backfield, saying after the game he is an energetic player that gets in a groove each drive he receives.
Ohio State saw that from Dobbins against the Terrapins, recording 203 yards on the ground on 37 carries, the most, he said, he had had since high school, scoring on a 1-yard rush at the end of the second quarter.
Dobbins was not by himself in the running game, with redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins rushing for 59 yards, scoring three touchdowns on the ground.
However, with the consistency of Dobbins, Haskins had the opportunity to run an offense that many expected from Ohio State at the beginning of the year: utilizing the option, but with a player who can run for short yardage, but prefers to pass.
With Dobbins and Haskins, it looked like the Ohio State offense Meyer wanted to run the whole time.
But with a running game that Ohio State has had all year that runs with the 1A and 1B backs at the top of the depth chart, it is not likely, assuming Weber’s return, that this kind of consistency from one back, that amount of a workload, will continue against Michigan.
Haskins continues to trust the tight ends
Haskins’ main targets in the passing game have not changed much this season. In Ohio State’s 1-point victory over Maryland, redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon recorded six catches for 102 yards while redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin brought in a team-leading 118 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
But in the short passing game, Haskins looked to his tight end, sophomore Luke Farrell, for consistent catches. He brought in four catches, tied for second-most on the team, for 44 yards, bringing in one for 19 yards.
Farrell’s performance against Maryland tied for his most receptions in a single game this season, bringing in four catches against Purdue on Oct. 20. The 44 yards through the air was also a season high.
Redshirt junior tight end Rashod Berry was also a major factor against the Terrapins, recording an 11-yard catch on a 4th-and-1 in overtime, leading to a 5-yard touchdown rush by Haskins.
For the Ohio State quarterback, tight ends were not the deciding factor in Saturday’s win. But the position, both Farrell and Berry, proved to be Haskins’ security blanket, something that could be effective moving forward.
Ohio State defense needs work
The Ohio State defense had a day to forget against the Terrapins on Saturday, allowing the most points (52) and the second-most yards (535) it had all season.
The offensive success started quickly for Maryland.
Reminiscent of the Oregon State game, Maryland redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland recorded two touchdown runs, one for 81 yards and the other for 75 in the first quarter, recording 298 yards on 21 carries overall.
Now, heading into the Michigan game, the Ohio State defense, allowing 24.6 points per game, is giving up close to 400 yards per game, with opponents averaging 5.9 yards per play and scoring 33 touchdowns against the Buckeyes this season.
Defending the ground game, Ohio State is No. 6 in the Big Ten, allowing 161.3 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. In the passing game, opponents are completing 52.3 percent of passes against the Buckeyes, but averaging 237.4 passing yards per game, No. 10 in the conference.
Next week, Ohio State will face a Michigan team that has the No. 4 rushing attack in the Big Ten, averaging 219.2 yards per game, and a passing attack that completes 65.1 percent of passes for 210.5 yards per game.
The Buckeyes will have to try and stop the balanced attack of Michigan. But it cannot do it the same way Ohio State tried to stop Maryland on Saturday.