COLLEGE PARK--If Maryland had any momentum left after a blasting by Michigan last week, it was throughly and emphatically obliterated by Ohio State.
A J.T. Barrett pick-six on the opening drive was called back after a Maryland pass interference penalty, and then, the blowout was on. Ohio State grabbed a 21-3 lead after the first quarter. It was 45-3 at halftime, and that was with the Buckeyes blowing multiple scoring opportunities.
The Buckeyes dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the Terps to a paltry 43 yards rushing, with most of those gained long after the Buckeye starters were on the sidelines, wondering what to do for dinner after the game. They torched them in the passing game, as J.T. Barrett worked a below average Maryland secondary horizontally and vertically, finishing with 253 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another two, as he continues his assault on the Big Ten record books.
Even Ohio State’s backups got into the action, outscoring Maryland 17-0 in the second half, as the Terps never got close to a scoring opportunity.
It was a beatdown in every facet of the game. Offense. Defense. Special teams, and at every position group. And the Maryland faithful knew it, with an already paltry crowd heading for the exits just after halftime. Ohio State’s heavy alumni presence in the DC area made their voices loud early and often, taking over the stadium.
The only dramatic question for the game after the first ten minutes or so was whether Ohio State would beat Maryland worse than Michigan did a week before. And the answer to that question is yes. The Buckeyes won by 59 points. The Wolverines only won by 56.
If you ask Ohio State players or coaches about this, they’ll beg off the question, pointing only to their next opponent, the suddenly reeling Michigan State Spartans. But even a cursory glance at the box score makes it hard to not wander over to the regular season finale.
Ohio State beat Rutgers 58-0. Michigan beat Rutgers 78-0. Michigan beat Wisconsin by 7. Ohio State beat Wisconsin by 7. The Indiana game will certainly invite new comparisons as well. Michigan clobbered Penn State, and Ohio State...well, okay, you get the picture.
The Big Ten’s eastern expansion teams haven’t provided much of a challenge to Ohio State. In their three meetings, the Buckeyes have outscored Maryland 163-55, winning all three games. Rutgers has seen a similar fate, getting crushed by the Buckeyes 163-24.
Weirdly enough, outside of bringing in sweet television lucre, the new programs operated as near vassal states in the offseason satellite camp recruiting wars, with Ohio State and Rutgers allying against Michigan’s plans in New Jersey, while the Terps and Wolverines worked together in DMV. Both programs are coached by members of the Ohio State and Michigan coaching trees, and hope to emulate a small fraction of that success as they try to make their own programs more competitive.
Those days may come later (probably sooner for Maryland than Rutgers), but this season has shown how far they still have to go.
Both teams still have games to play before the finale, and sure, Michigan could lose to Iowa or Indiana, technically. And yes, Michigan State is capable of giving Ohio State a game, even though the program is slogging through a horrible season.
But it’s all a prelude to the battle for the Big Ten, failing some unexpected upsets, with the winner getting a pathway to the Big Ten title game, a likely playoff spot, and leverage in the next stage of recruiting battles between the blue bloods.
J.T. Barrett said that, “it is November, and that’s where the season really hangs your hat on,” after the game. Meyer added that, “November is here, and we have a big one coming one week from today.” Ohio State is acutely aware of the calendar, and what those games mean.
To achieve those goals, they still need to take things one week at a time. But the rest of college football fandom could be excused if they’re taking a peek at the game in two weeks.
This was fun, but it isn’t the main event. That’s coming soon.