November has been good to the Buckeyes so far, at least on the field.
Last week's win was a dominant performance over a good opponent; this was an even more dominant performance against a pretty bad opponent. As you can see in the table below, the Buckeyes were even more efficient and explosive on a per-play basis. Through two games, the offense has only had one inefficient drive in non-garbage time play (i.e., a drive that didn't end with a scoring opportunity). The defense has only allowed a total of four explosive plays in that time span.
|Rushing exp plays
|Passing exp plays
|Red zone TDs
|Scoring opps efficiency
|Pts off turnovers
In the table above, scoring opportunity efficiency looks at the average points scored per scoring opportunity -- drives with a first down past the opponents' 40 yard line. Drive efficiency looks at the percentage of drives that were scoring opportunities. The number in parentheses is the number of three-and-outs the offense had. The number in parentheses in the Pts off turnovers row is the number of turnover opportunities the Ohio State offense had to score and includes turnovers on downs. These stats only include stats up to the first two drives of the second half.
In the advanced stats preview we noted that three advanced stats would matter most:
- Offensive rushing success rate: The Buckeyes should have a lot of success on the ground since Maryland fields one of the worst run defenses in the country.
- Offensive adjusted sack rate: The one area that Maryland might be able to find some success on defense is by creating negative plays in obvious passing situations. The limitation is that the Buckeyes may not be put in too many obvious passing situations.
- Defense rushing IsoPPP: Maryland's path to the upset is by creating explosive runs with two stellar running backs. The Buckeye defense will likely work on containing Harrison and Johnson and creating negative plays.
- Defensive finishing drives: The Buckeyes should have advantages creating negative plays, making the Terps drive the full length of the field, and preventing scoring opportunities from becoming touchdowns.
Cure for the common run game
It was clear from the beginning of the game that although the Buckeyes could run as much as they would've liked against this Maryland defense, the goal for the offense was to get the passing game some work.
The advanced rushing stats are honestly absurd, especially considering that this was a conference opponent: 70% rushing success rate and a 14% explosive rushing rate for the non-garbage time period I tracked (which was until J.T. got pulled). Mike Weber had a 58% success rate and four runs of 11+ yards, while Samuel had a 100% success rate, two explosive runs, and two rushing touchdowns on his four carries. That's absurd.
With that kind of efficiency, the offensive coaching staff could work on the trouble areas for more difficult matchups. And the passing game delivered with a performance that was slightly more efficient and definitely more explosive than last week's. Six different receivers had an explosive catch against Maryland.
We also noted the potential for Maryland's defensive front to get in Ohio State's backfield a few times -- they created two sacks and three tackles for loss, but J.T. had a ton of time in the pocket for most of the game.
The defense shut down all of Maryland's explosive ability
The Maryland run game has been surprisingly effective this season. But after leading rusher freshman Lorenzo Harrison was suspended for the game it was clear that Maryland would be fighting an extremely uphill battle to produce enough explosive runs to keep the game close.
As a result, the Terps had four three-and-outs through two and a half quarters and a dismal 14% rushing success rate. They didn't even have a single explosive run, with the longest on the day being just one 11-yard run.
Maryland also only had a single scoring opportunity, but the defense finished that drive as well, stopping Maryland after a first-and-goal at the Ohio State three yard line. That one scoring opportunity followed Maryland's sole explosive play, a 37-yard pass. That's a completely dominant defensive performance for the second-straight week.