COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Ohio State is in the business of winning championships, and it’s delivering worthy performances lately.
Championship teams don’t beat Northwestern by four. They fight through good teams and overwhelm, dominate and destroy bad ones. This Maryland team will never be confused with an elite opponent. However, the way Ohio State dismantled the Terrapins, piece by piece in their own stadium, showed why the Buckeyes are considered one of the nation’s best teams.
“When we have a team on the ropes, we always say we want to step on their throat and not let up because we have to send a message,” defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “That’s what we’re doing right now, and I like it.”
It didn’t take long to figure out Ohio State was going to beat Maryland. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives to take a 28-0 lead. Instead of relaxing its grip, Ohio State refused to let Maryland come back up for air.
Down by four touchdowns just 19 minutes into the game, Maryland advanced the ball to its own 39. There, it faced a fourth-and-1. Running back Wes Brown tried to beat the Buckeyes to the perimeter. Instead, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and safety Malik Hooker outraced him. Turnover on downs.
Even when Ohio State gave it right back on its own failed fourth-down conversion, it had to be encouraging to Buckeyes fans to see their team going for it on fourth down up by 28. And those who didn’t like the move had to wait exactly one play to start cheering again.
Cornerback Marshon Lattimore picked off Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe with an absolute beauty of a catch on the sideline. Ohio State followed with a touchdown, forced a punt on a third-down sack, scored another touchdown, forced and recovered a fumble, and then kicked a field goal.
In the blink of an eye, and still in the first half, it was 45-3. During that seven-minute stretch of 17 points, the Buckeyes fed Maryland steady doses of running back Mike Weber and H-back Curtis Samuel. Both did whatever they wanted against a defense that was growing steadily weaker. This is when Ohio State’s weapons can be especially deadly. Samuel said they see defenders running slower, walking back to the line instead of running back, hands on hips and gasping for air. When that happens, the Buckeyes know they’ve won.
“It’s like a shark who smells blood,” right guard Billy Price said.
For good measure, the Buckeyes came out in the second half to make sure Maryland was done. Another turnover on downs led to a field goal, and then a Maryland punt was followed by an Ohio State touchdown. The game was already out of reach. However, Ohio State had seen halftime leads against Penn State and Northwestern wither away. A scoreless third quarter let the Wildcats tie it, and a scoreless fourth quarter let the Nittany Lions win it. That problem appears in the past.
“If you get a little sloppy in the third or fourth quarter when you really need to put a team away, things like (Penn State and Northwestern) happen,” Price said. “That’s when you don’t step on a team’s throat and put them away. We came out in the second half and first drive got a field goal. The second drive, we scored a touchdown and put the game away.”
Maryland tapped out, and Ohio State moved one step closer to its championship goals.