Last year it was getting bulllied by Michigan in poor weather conditions, and this season it appears that the urgency that was evident for much of the season has disappeared. It’s almost as if they decided to take an extended nap after the off week.
Ohio State looked average for three quarters before pulling away against Penn State, looked soft in the elements in a much closer-than-expected win at Northwestern, and had bouts of inconsistency last weekend against Indiana before putting it on cruise control in the second half.
Whether it’s the feeling of lack of opposition, injuries, or talent not living up to the billing, something is definitely amiss.
And Maryland has taken advantage.
After 30 minutes, the Terrapins are averaging 5.86 yards per play, compared to just 5.60 for the Buckeyes. That’s well below their nation’s best 7.60, and the playcalling may have a lot to do with it.
Last week when the going got tough against Indiana Ohio State played bully ball and run up the middle, picking up chunks of yardage. Today it’s a return to the finesse game, runs to the outside, deep, difficult throws to the sideline instead of quick slants and underneath passes.
Ohio State has played this laissez-faire game before, and to this point, it hasn’t come back to bite. All it needs to do is look at today’s scoreboard to see that a lofty ranking doesn’t insulate from defeat.
Both No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU needed field goals on the final play of the game to escape with their playoff lives, and at the moment it appears that the Buckeyes may need to do the same.
“It’s something that we’ve talked about in the preseason a lot, though, because we knew we’d be in situations where you have to bring it every week,” Day said earlier this season. “And so now we’ll draw upon that. And I mean, that there’s not going to be one of the surprises that we haven’t addressed. It doesn’t matter. Every single week, you gotta bring it. Otherwise, you’re you don’t have a chance to be a champion.’
Now is the time for the Buckeyes to show those are more than just words.