COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For the second week in a row, No. 7 Ohio State blew out a Big Ten opponent to improve to 5-1 as the Buckeyes head into their bye week.
Ohio State cruised past Maryland with efficient offensive production, stifling defense, and a masterful performance from C.J. Stroud and his top receivers.
No punts, no problems
Ohio State scored eight touchdowns on its first nine possessions and that type of efficiency is becoming a trend for the Buckeyes who scored five touchdowns on six drives against Rutgers last week.
The only reason Ohio State didn’t score a touchdown on all was because they took a knee to send the game to halftime up 35-10. C.J. Stroud’s biggest struggles this season have come in the first quarter, but the past two weeks the redshirt freshman has been lights out. This week, Stroud went 12-15 for 157 yards and one touchdown in the first quarter. The first drive took 17 plays for 88 yards in which Stroud threw for 88 yards.
The 17-play drive is the longest for Ohio State since 2015 and second-longest since 2010. The drive ended on a two-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson on fourth and goal. Ryan Day’s decision to go for it set the tone for the rest of the game and helped give Stroud confidence.
Stroud ended with 406 yards passing, 24 completions on 33 attempts, and five touchdowns for the second game in a row.
“I think his preparation has been excellent. I think he sees the field well, he’s got some good players around him but he’s also making some really good throws,” Day said. “Is he there yet? Absolutely not but I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen the last two weeks.”
OSU’s offensive line should also be credited with this type of success throwing the ball, especially since Maryland ranked first in the Big Ten in sacks per game entering Saturday’s contest. The Terps only got home once on Stroud.
Defense is balling
Ohio State’s defense was solid against Rutgers, but the true test of whether the Buckeyes have gotten better on that side of the ball was Saturday. OSU passed with flying colors. The Terps average more than 300 yards passing a game and the Buckeyes held Maryland to 279, with 108 of those yards coming with the game already in hand for Ohio State, up big late in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes only gave up 56 yards on the ground.
“We’re playing with a lot more energy,” linebacker Steele Chambers said. “We’re definitely getting more comfortable with the system that we put in. I think we just have more trust in each other that we’ll get our jobs done and we’ll do the right thing.”
The Buckeyes continued their streak of returning an interception for a touchdown after Craig Young went 70 yards for the score, which gives OSU four straight games with a pick six. Ryan Watts also snagged his second interception this season.
Ohio State continues to improve at rushing the quarterback and recorded five sacks against a mobile Taulia Tagovailoa and after the game, Day said he gave defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs the game ball.
“It’s because of everything he’s been through the last couple weeks and he just continues to show up every day and he’s a huge part of the defense,” Day said.
Buckeye receivers are a cheat code
Stroud’s success has a lot to do with his own play but not mentioning how good his targets are would be a travesty. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson combined for 204 yards and four touchdowns and Jaxon Smith-Njigba continues to build his role on the team with a 103-yard receiving day.
“I feel like we’re still building this offense. We’re starting to build more chemistry, especially on game day, so I feel like this offense can be scary and unstoppable,” Olave said. “We just have to keep going and keep getting better.”
Four touchdowns went for 26 yards or more and Ohio State’s receivers are second to none when it comes to gaining separation on a defender. That was even personified on the opening touchdown when Ohio State went for it on fourth and goal from the two-yard line.
Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson had another dominating performance on the ground with 102 yards rushing but he also showed his ability to catch out of the backfield with 67 yards and three total touchdowns.