Of the many areas in which Ohio State smoked Maryland Saturday in a 73-14 victory,Justin Fields and the downfield routes of the Buckeye receiving corps had a particular impact in turning the Terrapins into turtle soup.
The sophomore quarterback needed just 15 completions to rack up 200 yards, completing five passes of at least 15 yards. Redshirt senior quarterback Chris Chugunov followed in second-half relief with 103 yards on just eight completions.
“We challenged the protection. We challenged the routes,” head coach Ryan Day said. “We challenged everybody involved with it, the decision-making.”
While Ohio State’s stable of wide receivers finished with 254 yards Saturday, it was sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert that first took the top off the Terrapin secondary. Fields connected with the New York product on a post route for 23 yards on Ohio State’s second drive.
“It’s stuff we do all the time in practice,” Ruckert said. “[Fields] saw it, it was the right read and we executed.”
Ruckert finished Saturday with two receptions for 30 yards, his highest total since Week 1 against Florida Atlantic.
Ohio State’s tight ends have just 12 receptions this season, but Ruckert said it’s important to stay focused for when the opportunities arise.
“When your number is called, you have to make the play, whether it’s pass protection, running routes, blocking for the run,” Ruckert said. “Anything you have to do. That’s what our tight end unit really buys into, is we’re the most unselfish unit.”
Two plays later, redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Hill broke open up the left seam for a 33-yard strike. Ohio State finished with a touchdown that drive to increase its lead to 14-0.
On the Buckeyes’ third possession, Fields found freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson for 27 yards up the right sideline, leaving just four yards to go for another score that the Buckeyes covered with ease.
Wilson led Ohio State in receiving yards Saturday, posting a career-high 82 despite having a 46-yard touchdown reception called back for holding.
As his role continues to grow — he started at punt returner and tied his career mark for receptions — for Ohio State, Wilson is focused on improvement.
“I’m just worried about getting better week-to-week, that’s all I can do,” Wilson said. “Then whenever I’m out there and get called on, I’ve gotta make plays.”
Fields found Hill and sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave for a 15-plus-yard catch apiece through the rest of the first half.
Chugunov started out of the intermission for Ohio State and continued Fields’ work with the help of Wilson and freshman wide receiver Jameson Williams.
Williams hauled in a 15-yard catch and turn on Chugunov’s first play of the game, and the former West Virginia transfer hit Wilson up the sideline the next play for 35 more.
A drive later, Wilson beat his corner off the ball and ran under a 14-yard fade for Chugunov’s lone passing touchdown.
In total, Ohio State out-threw Maryland 322-77.
Ohio State’s passing attack will have a chance to stay in rhythm against Rutgers next week, as the Scarlet Knights rank No. 78 nationally in passing defense.