The Big Ten opener for Ohio State started out exactly as the Buckeyes hoped it would. Quarterback J.T. Barrett and the offense would take the field to start off the game as they drove down the field behind the legs of running back Ezekiel Elliott and Barrett himself. A few players later and Rod Smith punched it in for the first touchdown of the day, giving the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.
The defense played well throughout the game, dominating the Maryland offense in the first half, allowing just 10 points. A late touchdown in the second quarter was one of the few successful Terrapin drives as Joey Bosa racked up 5 tackles, 3 for losses, and a sack while also providing pressure to Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown.
After an amazing effort by Michael Thomas in the endzone putting the Buckeyes ahead 21-3, it seemed as if Ohio State would cruise through the rest of the afternoon.
The second half started off with a goal-line stand by Maryland as the Buckeyes attempted to run the ball up the middle three straight times before a 4th down sack of Barrett would give the Terrapins some momentum on the offensive side of the ball. With backup quarterback Caleb Rowe in for C.J. Brown, the Terps started the drive off strong, pushing into Ohio State territory before Eli Apple would come up with a key interception in the endzone to help seal off any attempt of a comeback as a few plays later, J.T. Barrett would find Devin Smith for a touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 38-10.
Barrett would find the endzone at the start of the fourth quarter following a Maryland score, this time with his legs, giving a 45-17 lead to Ohio State. Maryland wouldn't let up, however, as Stefon Diggs added a short touchdown reception to make it 45-24 with 13:32 remaining in the game. True freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan would come up with a deflected pass and run it all the way to the endzone for a pick six to put Ohio State up 52-24.
The final highlight came from backup Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, when he hurdled over a Maryland defender on his first drive of the game.
Three things we learned
1. Starting Michael Thomas was the right move. It was a bit surprising to see Michael Thomas listed as the starter at wide receiver over senior wideout Devin Smith earlier this week, but coach Meyer and the staff let Thomas show off his excellent talent. Thomas hauled in an impressive over-the-defender grab for a touchdown in the second quarter and was Ohio State's leading receiver with 4 receptions for 75 yards. Thomas has been Ohio State's most reliable receiver this season, and against Maryland, with Thomas' uncle and former NFL wideout Keyshawn Johnson looking on, it was much of the same story.
2. Joey Bosa is really just that good. Joey Bosa and the Ohio State defensive line were so disruptive in the first half that Maryland chose to go with backup quarterback Caleb Rowe in the second half with hopes to shake things up and gain some momentum. Despite that, Bosa dominated all game long. In the first half alone, the sophomore defensive end produced 5 tackles, 3 of which went for losses, and a sack. The second half was much of the same, as Bosa helped pressure Rowe and force some turnovers including an interception by Eli Apple in the third quarter. The Buckeyes know they have a superstar at defensive end and still have him for a whole season next year as well.
3. The offensive line is getting back to normal. The opening drive of the game was enough to prove that the Ohio State offensive line came to play for the third straight game. After the debacle against Virginia Tech at home, the criticism of the line was crashing in from all directions. Since then, the line has steadily improved with games against Kent State and Cincinnati. Quarterback J.T. Barrett had another solid performance (18-23, 267 yrds, in large part due to the time provided for him to throw. With the thick of the Big Ten schedule coming up, there's no better time for the line to solidify their game.