COLLEGE PARK, Md. — How’s that for a repeat performance?
One week after hammering Nebraska, 62-3, Ohio State did it again. The Buckeyes hit the road and handed Maryland a loss with the exact same score. There was no part of this showing that wasn’t impressive. As a result, the Buckeyes have to be considered one of the nation’s most dangerous teams right now.
Five things we learned
1. The opening drive problems are gone: Through the first seven games of the season, Ohio State had scored three points on opening drives. Ever since a reporter mentioned that to coach Urban Meyer in a news conference, it’s been a different story. Against Northwestern and Nebraska, the Buckeyes scored a touchdown to open the game. That continued against the Terrapins. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett led Ohio State on a seven-play, 71-yard touchdown drive to give the visitors a quick 7-0 advantage.
2. The offensive line continues to grow: I spent a good bit of time watching the Ohio State offensive line in the first quarter, and the Buckeyes looked great. Right tackle Isaiah Prince keeps improving. The interior, including true freshman Michael Jordan, is handling opposing defensive tackles. Pat Elflein, in particular, has done a great job of anchoring this unit. This was somewhat of a homecoming game for Prince (a DC-area native) and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who used to coach at Maryland. Both appear to have enjoyed it.
3. Curtis Samuel can’t have enough touches: Just give the ball to Samuel on every play. The Brooklyn native put on another clinic on Saturday. He caught five passes for 74 yards and carried it four times for 38 yards. In those nine touches, he scored three touchdowns. He’s Ohio State’s best offensive weapon and holds the key to a potential championship run. Feed Samuel and watch the points pile up.
4. The defense is getting the job done: The untimely defensive mistakes that plagued Ohio State during the close win against Northwestern and Penn State loss have disappeared. Instead, it’s been back-to-back games with just a field goal allowed by the Silver Bullets. It’s easy to point to Maryland’s mediocrity, but Ohio State made legitimately good plays Saturday. Marshon Lattimore’s interception was a thing of beauty and showed just how many playmakers this unit has.
5. Ohio State’s fans are something else: With the stadium empty, Ohio State fans brought the noise themselves. Second-half O-H-I-O chants rang out throughout Maryland Stadium as Buckeyes fans serenaded the players. The effort from the fans in the stands matched that of the team on the field.
Ohio State didn’t forfeit during the coin toss. It was pretty much over from there.
Question answered for Ohio State
Would Ohio State show up ready and focused for 5-4 Maryland? The Buckeyes answered that one with a resounding “yes.” The first touchdown set the tone, but the foot remained on the gas pedal for the entire first half.
Can the Buckeyes keep this going? That was an incredible performance on the road. However, the last thing Ohio State wants to do is create doubt heading into the Michigan game. Obviously asking for another 60 points is unrealistic (or is it?), but Ohio State would serve itself well to beat Michigan State emphatically and roll into the Michigan game in dominant form.
Four. That’s about how many Maryland fans stuck around to see the second half.
What it means
Ohio State is rounding into form just in time. That’s two games in a row with 60-plus points. This level of play couldn’t come at a better time. Ohio State will travel to Michigan State next week before hosting Michigan. With the postseason nearing, the Buckeyes are the team nobody wants to play (non-Alabama edition).