Maryland was able to hang around for nearly three full quarters, thanks to some explosive running from Perry Hills, but eventually, Ohio State's new efficient offense was too much for the Terrapins, as the Buckeyes pulled away for a resounding victory.
Maryland struck first in this contest, as Perry Hills hit D.J. Moore for a 52-yard touchdown, giving the Terps an early 7-0 lead. On Ohio State's ensuing drive, Cardale Jones was pulled from the game when the Buckeyes got into the red zone in favor of J.T. Barrett, who led the Buckeyes into the end zone.
The Buckeyes were able to get Braxton Miller involved a lot more in this one. Cardale hit Braxton Miller for two consecutive completions midway through the second quarter, the second one for a touchdown. Maryland was able to bridge the gap at the end of the half after Perry Hills ran 75-yards to the Ohio State 3-yard line, where he would punch it in to make it a 21-14 game.
Maryland tied the game up early in the third quarter, but Ohio State would regain the lead midway through the quarter, on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Cardale Jones to Jalin Marshall. The Buckeyes would add another score to open up the score to 35-21, after a J.T. Barrett goal-line touchdown. After that, it was all Ohio State, as they would go on to win the game 49-28.
3 things we learned:
1. J.T. Barrett as the red zone quarterback works. Urban Meyer said during the week that he was considering using J.T. Barrett in the red zone in favor of Cardale Jones, and while he didn't entirely commit to that sentiment during the week, we saw it, and it worked pretty well. The Buckeyes were effective in the red zone, where they have had a lot of trouble so far this season.
Barrett had three scores in the red zone. His first came in the first quarter, capping off a Buckeye drive that went for 14 plays and 75 yards. His second came in the third quarter, capping off a 9-play, 66-yard drive to give the Buckeyes a 35-21 lead. Barrett capped off the game with an 18-yard touchdown run, his third score of the game. It appeared the offense didn't miss a beat, and it was perhaps because the quarterback switch was more systematic as opposed to random. The expectation from everyone was that Barrett would be in for red zone opportunities, and it worked.
This seemed to work considerably well for the Buckeyes. Cardale Jones did what Cardale Jones does, making the big, explosive plays that we saw in his passes to Braxton Miller, as well as his bomb to Jalin Marshall. Barrett was effective in the red zone last season, the Buckeyes scored on 85 percent of their red zone trips with Barrett under center. The Buckeyes were 5/5 in the red zone today under Barrett's command.
2. Urban Meyer was serious about getting Braxton Miller touches. We saw a lot more Braxton Miller this week, after Urban Meyer had stressed being able to get Miller more touches. Miller was involved early on in this one, taking snaps, as well as receiving handoffs. Miller caught consecutive passes from Cardale Jones in the second quarter, the second one for a touchdown. He had eight total touches in the first half.
Miller might have had one of his more effective games. Having him on the field and making a solid contribution kept the defense on their toes, and he was yet another weapon that the Terrapins had to respect the entire game, whether the ball was in his hands or not.
We didn't see nearly as much of Braxton Miller in the second half, and that more than likely had a lot to do with the fact that Maryland was able to keep it close. To experiment with getting Miller touches wasn't as ideal when it appeared that Maryland posed somewhat of a threat to the Buckeyes. But if Ohio State can continue to get production out of Miller, it will be a huge addition with the losses that the Buckeyes have had at wide receiver this season.
3. The defense needs to sharpen up a bit. For most of the season, the defense has been the one aspect of the team where there have been no questions. They had a fire that any coach would beg to have on his team. More than one Buckeye was always near the ball, and good, secure tackles were made every play. We have still seen this, but it hasn't been quite as thorough the past couple of weeks.
Like Indiana, Maryland was able to get a lot of what they wanted on the ground, especially with quarterback Perry Hills. Hills had 25 carries for 170 yards. He had a 75-yarder that looked awfully similar to what Zander Diamont of Indiana whipped out on the Buckeyes a week ago. To see a quarterback have his was on the ground was uncomforting.
The Buckeye defense also gave up explosive plays too easily. on top of Perry Hills' 75 yard run that led to a touchdown, and a 52-yard pass to D.J. Moore. Those were not a thing we saw from this defense early on in the season. But, with that said, while the defense could be a lot worse, we'd love to seem them sharpen up to the level they played at earlier in the season. It's a nice security blanket when you aren't sure about your offense.