Saturday’s matchup between Ohio State and Maryland answered the question of what happens when an unstoppable force meets a nonresistant object.
No. 1 Ohio State (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) used a 42-0 first half dismantling on both sides of the ball to springboard itself to a 73-14 victory over Maryland (3-7, 1-6) in Ohio Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields guided the offense with 200 yards and three touchdowns passing, adding a score on the ground. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins picked up 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground in just 12 carries, while the Ohio State front seven compiled seven sacks in the absence of star junior defensive end Chase Young.
“We went through a little adversity this week,” head coach Ryan Day said. “Adversity reveals character and our character was at the forefront of this game. I thought we came out and showed that we are made of something special here.”
Following a 31-yard punt, Ohio State took over in Maryland territory at the Terrapin 48-yard-line its first possession.
Dobbins picked up 24 yards on two carries before Fields hit senior wide receiver Binjimen Victor on a crossing route for a 12-yard score. The Buckeyes led 7-0 after 3:28 of gametime.
Even Ohio State couldn’t kill its own drives. In the first quarter, a false start set the offense back for a second-and-15 before Fields found sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert for a 23-yard gain. The same scenario approached the Buckeyes two plays later, and this time redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Hill became the beneficiary of a 33-yard completion.
Fields eventually dusted off the possession with a four-yard touchdown dive. Ohio State led 14-0 with 5:02 to play in the first quarter.
Then streaking sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave caught a surprise onside kick up the left sideline placed so well by junior kicker Blake Haubeil it may as well have been a pass from Fields.
After a 13-yard completion to Victor and a 27-yard strike to freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson, Hill hauled in a four-yard touchdown that set the first quarter score at 21-0.
Maryland’s offense, meanwhile, gained its first first down of the game thanks to a facemask penalty by Ohio State redshirt sophomore cornerback Shaun Wade. It finished the drive, its third of the game, by punting on fourth-and-19 after a sack by redshirt junior linebacker Tuf Borland.
The Terrapins finished the first quarter with one yard of offense.
“We don’t want to be that team that just slips up one week and ends up costing us our whole season,” Ruckert said. “We really have that in the back of our minds every week, it’s like March Madness.”
Ohio State responded to Maryland’s gifted progress with an 11-play, 76-yard touchdown drive dusted off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Olave. The Buckeyes led 28-0 with 11:25 to play before halftime.
Maryland’s offense picked up relative steam from there, but still couldn’t muster a score or even cross the Ohio State 40-yard-line in the first half. Ohio State added another touchdown to its lead on a 10-play, 86-yard drive capped by a 7-yard Dobbins plunge.
After two sacks and a forced intentional grounding by the Ohio State defense, the offense added another score by moving 54 yards in 28 seconds. Dobbins slipped two defenders on a 20-yard touchdown run to set the halftime score at 42-0.
“We always want to be aggressive, and that’s just the way that we want to be around here,” Day said. “We did that at the end of the Northwestern game as well. But that’s just our approach every week.”
When the intermission whistle blew, Ohio State had outgained Maryland 363-66, converting 8-for-8 third downs against an 0-for-6 Terrapin performance and piling up five sacks on defense.
Ohio State’s backups started the second half, which Day said was an effort to preserve the health of the starting unit.
“We haven’t played a whole bunch of football, when you really think about it, this year,” Day said. “And we had a long talk about it. But it’s November. We still have a lot of football ahead of us. We thought that was the best move.”
Sophomore linebacker K’Vaughan Pope hauled in his first career interception, and a 15-yard dime by redshirt senior quarterback Chris Chugunov to Wilson extended the lead to 49-0 with 11:28 to go in the third quarter.
Haubeil continued the unanswered streak with a 23-yard field goal, before 45 yards of defensive penalties moved Maryland into scoring position and it broke the shutout on a 26-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Dontay Demus.
Ohio State freshman running back Marcus Crowley tallied another Ohio State score, carrying three consecutive times for 38 yards and a score.
Maryland used a big kick return to boost its offense to a touchdown against Ohio State’s third-team defense, with a 12-yard run by junior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis cutting the lead to 59-14 with 9:39 to play.
Ohio State redshirt junior running back Demario McCall got his chance to shine with a five-yard run with 7:11 to play.
McCall ended the offensive outburst with a 20-yard touchdown run.
The Buckeyes travel to Rutgers for a 3:30 kickoff Nov. 16.