Let’s be honest, there’s not a ton that you can learn about a team in a 73-14 victory that isn’t already painfully obvious. But, as the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes absolutely decimated the Maryland Terrapins, a few thoughts about this team, and the future of the program, came to mind.
1.) Ohio State is better than Maryland at the intercollegiate sport known as tackle football.
2.) Ohio State’s second team would be undefeated.
The Buckeyes were leading by a score of 42-0 at halftime, so when the third quarter began, head coach Ryan Day decided that the majority of his starters had seen enough action for the afternoon. So, the second-stringers got a healthy chunk of playing time, and then the coaches emptied the bench and seemed to get everyone who wasn’t clinging to a redshirt into the game.
Despite the reserves playing the full 30 minutes, OSU won the second half 31-14. So that got me thinking, “Just how would the backup Buckeyes do with this season’s schedule?”
So, I plugged the data into the Completely Real, Not-At-All-Made-Up, Patent-Pending, Land-Grant Holy Land Backup Season Simulator (CPNAAMUPPLGHLBSS for short) and this is what our advanced analytics showed me. Obviously the margin of victory (more on that later) would not be as high as it has been with the starters in the game, but the Buckeyes would still be undefeated after close wins against Michigan State and Wisconsin, and would be getting ready for a historic win over Rutgers next Saturday.
3.) Ohio State will win the Big Ten Championship with or without Chase Young (but hopefully with).
Look, I’ve made my feelings about this entire Chase Young situation incredibly well known at this point, probably to the point that my homer-card has now been tattooed on my face.
But, in the scenario in which Young is ultimately suspended for two games (yesterday against Maryland and this coming Saturday against Rutgers) it obviously doesn’t matter in regards to whether or not the Buckeyes remain undefeated in those games.
If he is ruled out for four games — which is still absurd based on what we believe that we know at this point — it gets slightly more tenuous. However, my perception of Penn State’s chances to beat the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium sunk like a rock thrown from a row boat following their 31-26 defeat at the hands of P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.
In the game, Minnesota was the beneficiary of three interceptions (two by should-have-been Buckeye Antoine Winfield Jr.), which certainly helped, but they only had two sacks and five tackles for loss. Now, obviously, the presence of Young in the Nov. 23 match-up would be of incredible benefit to the Buckeyes, but the blueprint to beat the Nits doesn’t require you to pulverize Sean Clifford into the ground. So, I think that Ohio State would still be considerable favorites to win even without the best player in the country on the field.
Then there’s The Team Up North, who following the first half against Penn State on Oct. 19 has looked oddly competent on offense, including blasting Notre Dame 45-14 the following week. Again, it should go without saying, but this is the internet, so I feel obliged to say it, having Young start on the end would dramatically improve Ohio State’s chances to beat their rival, but Michigan just doesn’t give up a lot of sacks as it is.
They’ve allowed only 14 on the season thus far, and while Young’s presence would obviously increase OSU’s likelihood of getting some sacks, yesterday showed that the remaining studs on the defensive line are quite capable of disrupting an offense, albeit one that is not nearly as good as the one run by Kaptain Khakis.
But the fact remains, Ohio State is just far more talented — with or without Young — than any team remaining on their pre-playoff schedule, including Michigan and any potential Big Ten Championship Game opponent.
4.) Ohio State’s offensive future is incredibly bright.
We all obviously know that Ohio State is a recruiting juggernaut, and we all get excited about the potential of the young players on the team. But, yesterday, due to injuries and the fact that starters were out for the second half, we got to see a lot of the next wave of Buckeye stars.
We saw it with the running backs as Master Teague went for 110 yards on the ground and Marcus Crowley went for 82. And, we saw it through the air as Chris Olave had 43 yards and one touchdown receiving, and Garrett Wilson had 82 yards and a TD himself.
folks, stop me if you've heard this one before, but the young receivers are really talented. Buckeyes up 49-0 on Garrett Wilson's 2nd half TD. pic.twitter.com/wA9WJ6kTU2— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 9, 2019
The offense is in good hands for years to come; and don’t forget, Justin Fields is just a sophomore. We’ve got at least one more year of him at quarterback.
Then on defense, even without Chase Young or Jonathon Cooper on the field, was dominant. Sophomore Tyreke Smith showed some glimpses of just how athletic he is from the defensive end position.
Tyreke Smith got held and still chased down the QB for the sack. pic.twitter.com/R5WXIcTxde— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 9, 2019
Then there was K’Vaughn Pope, who not only got a tackle, a pass break-up, and an interception, but then also got a really cool celebration from position coach Al Washington.
The INT is great for Pope, but not gonna lie, I might have teared up with the way that the coach (is that Al Washington?) ran over to congratulate him? pic.twitter.com/I9o6t9sNl3— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 9, 2019
The Buckeyes might lose a ton of talent to the NFL after this season, but there is plenty more where that came from.
5.) Ohio State is on pace to be the most dominant team in at least last 16 years.
As the Buckeyes were obliterating Maryland, I remembered that the Terps beat Rutgers — OSU’s next opponent — 48-7. So, of course my mind wandered to what the final score of that bloodbath will be. Then, the natural progression was to wonder how Ohio State’s ridiculous margin of victory held up historically.
A little Google search didn’t turn up much, but I did find data dating back to the 2003 season at TeamRankings.com that would indicate that the Buckeyes are on pace to have the best margin of victory since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” was on top of the Billboard chart.
Below is a list of the teams that have led the country in scoring margin for each of the last 17 seasons.
CFB Scoring Averages Since 2003
Ohio State’s final two opponents of the regular season will obviously stress their ability to stay ahead of the last BCS champs, the 2013 Florida State Seminoles, in this category, but, with next week’s game against Rutgers as an on-ramp, it is still very possible to end the regular season ahead of their 41.8-point scoring differential.
Since we know that Maryland is significantly better than Rutgers, and we know just how badly that the Buckeyes beat the Terps, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities that Ohio State beats the Scarlet Knights by a score somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-7 on Saturday. Honestly, I would imagine that if Day wanted to, they could legitimately score 100 like I facetiously suggested for the backups earlier.
But, they won’t, so I think a 73-point win is probably around the ceiling for what type of damage the Buckeyes will do next week.
Then, we get to the two most challenging games on the season; games that I’m already on record as saying that Ohio State will win. But, in order to maintain a lead in the historical scoring-margin category, Ohio State will need to beat Penn State and Michigan by a combined 48 points. That sounds a bit daunting, but I think that it is certainly doable.
If OSU beats Penn State by something like 37-17 and then goes to Ann Arbor and beats Michigan by a score in the ballpark of 42-14 (remember, last year the scoring margin was +23 for the Buckeyes), they would head into the Big Ten Championship Game with a historic scoring-differential of 41.9 points per game.