The Terrapins were shut out a week ago against Penn State and scored only 10 points in the last two games combined but were able to get excellent play from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and big plays from its receiving corps to push the Buckeyes to the limit.
A few things of note from the game:
Guns Blazing in the Second Half
After a sluggish first-half performance that saw the Buckeyes trailing 13-10 at intermission, it was imperative to get the machine rolling in the second half.
The catalyst for the second straight week was Lathan Ransom, who stretched out to block a Colton Spangler and set the Buckeyes up at the Terrapins 14-yard line. Dallan Hayden punched it in two plays later to put OSU on top 17-13, and it never trailed again.
“That play by Latham really turned the game around,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We talked about how important it was to play well in the third quarter and he really was the spark. His production has been amazing the last few games, he’s been producing at a high level.”
The Buckeyes scored on all but one series in the second half after punting three times in the opening 30 minutes. Day made it known that despite recent struggles, Maryland wasn’t going to go away.
“When you’re playing in November in the Big Ten, these are challenges,” Day said. “The goal is to win and move on. There are going to be games when you don’t jump out as quick as you’d like to. What was most important is we came together and said it would be a four-quarter battle. Buckled down in the third quarter and got it going.”
The Buckeyes are the top third-quarter scoring team in college football, pushing their total to 139 points after a 17-point burst against Maryland.
OSU was also much better at converting on third down, having success on five-of-seven in the second half. The Buckeyes were 8-of-15 for the game.
Day is happy that his team is still standing after taking a few haymakers.
“This is the Maryland team we expected,” he said. “They have talent. Taulia really played well and did a lot of things we knew he could do. They have some athletes, and we did some things that played into them hitting some big plays on us.”
And A Child Shall Lead Them
After some flashes from TreVeyon Henderson, which included a nifty catch and run touchdown in the first quarter, the Buckeyes ground game became stagnant. That theme has been all too common this season, and when Henderson left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a reaggravation of his foot injury it looked like the Buckeyes could be in panic mode.
But there was no fear in the eyes of freshman Dallan Hayden, who had already amassed a pair of 100-yard games to his credit – though he wasn’t in the spotlight the way he was against Maryland, in a tight game with everything to lose.
Hayden was instrumental in the victory, rolling up 146 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. He ran through contact, showed some elusiveness in the hole, and had a burst that was lacking from Henderson for much of the contest.
“We were scrambling a bit (with our running game) and went with Dallan,” Day said. “He ran hard and ran well, running through contact. We didn’t get the running game going in the first half, made the change. He got us into a rhythm. He almost broke a couple. For a young player with so much on the line today, this was big. This should build confidence going forward. He is seeing it. When you see him hit it, he’s running through contact. He has really good feet. We had to run to eat the clock, there were a couple of guys in the hole that he made miss. He got us back on schedule.”
Hayden had seven runs of eight yards or more and really embodied the physical style Day wants to see from his offense.
“He’s a tough runner,” Day said. “He gets his shoulders in there and isn’t afraid to take on defenders. He really got us going in our ground game in the second half.”
Hayden has 503 yards and five touchdowns in 2022, a year where it was expected he would watch and learn. But an injury to third back Evan Pryor forced him into the rotation, and injuries to Henderson and Miyan Williams have put him under the microscope.
It’s safe to say that he has passed his biggest test to date. But a “final exam” of sorts waits in the form of the Michigan Wolverines.
OSU Can Finally Look To That Team Up North
Day wasn’t certain whether his team was guilty of looking past Maryland or if it was just a lack of execution, but he knows the Buckeyes weren’t as sharp as they wanted to be.
The time for looking ahead is over, though, as The Game week has arrived. The sting of last year’s 42-27 defeat and the physical way Michigan beat up on the Buckeyes has stuck in the craw of each and every member of the team. It has driven Ohio State to its current 11-0 mark, and now the Buckeyes are just one step away from realizing two of its goals for 2022 – beating its hated rival and playing for the Big Ten championship.
“Living with how things went last year has not been easy, hasn’t been good,” Day said. “We’re looking forward to the preparation and our guys have been focused on it. The Week is officially here.”
There have been whispers that Ohio State under Day has lacked the toughness and grit that it had under Urban Meyer. There was never a question of whether the Buckeyes welcomed a fight when Meyer was on the sideline, but now it appears that there are times when OSU would rather finesse its way out of a brawl than take one on.
If it wants to beat Michigan that expectation will have to change. Day thinks it already has.
“I think we’re experienced. I think we’ve been scarred,” he said. “Coming off that game we were highly motivated this season to be where we are now. Now all the chips go in, it’s time to go to work.”
Michigan had a great escape of its own, getting a field goal in the waning moments to beat Illinois 19-17. That sets up a contest with massive stakes, chief among them a probable berth in the College Football Playoff.
The Wolverines were there last year and would love to return while Ohio State has been a regular attendee who didn’t enjoy the view from the sidelines a year ago.
“This is what you play for, what you work for,” Day said. “We practice it every day, focus on it every day. We live it every day. Now it’s time to go out and show whether that preparation and drive is good enough to beat what we expect to be a very motivated and physical football team.”
Michigan travels to Ohio Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 26, with kickoff at noon.