This is 12-for-12: Ohio State’s Perfect Season. In lieu of a football season this year — well, actually now in addition to a fall season thanks to the newly announced October start — we have put together a full 12-game schedule for the Buckeyes using one game from each of the last 12 years. The docket is complete with three non-conference opponents, nine Big Ten showdowns, and will also include a three-game postseason with a Big Ten title game and College Football Playoff matchups. We tried to use the best games from each of the 12 years to fill the slots, but some had to be left out to avoid duplicate opponents in the regular season.
We will also be keeping a running total of the regular season’s stat leaders as if all of these games were occurring over one full season. There are many different players that have come through the program during this 12-year span, so only the top three guys in each category will be listed. In the end, we’ll have an interesting concoction of who led the Buckeyes over this 12-game Frankenstein season.
We are going to continue this series even with the announced October start date for the actual Big Ten 2020 season, both as a fun look back through Ohio State’s past matchups and also just in case — god forbid — anything funky happens between now and the opening kickoff.
Game four on the schedule: Ohio State vs. Maryland (2018).
Tale of the Tape
The 2018 season was not one that will be remembered fondly by Ohio State fans, despite being led by one of the best quarterbacks in program history in Dwayne Haskins. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, their defense was compromised by incredibly poor coaching. The linebackers coach only had a job because he was the best man at the head coach’s wedding, and the defensive coordinator insisted on playing a defensive scheme that saw the safety planning man coverage 10 yards off the line against the opposing slot receiver.
As you could imagine, neither of these would be good for Ohio State, and it resulted in the team being blown out in a 49-20 upset at the hands of Purdue that derailed the entire season. The Bucks would finish the regular season 12-1, ending with a 62-39 decimation of Michigan that saw them land in the Rose Bowl against Washington — a game in which they would lead 28-3 but only go on to win 28-23 because, you know. Coaching. It’s not a coincidence the exact same defensive players came back the next year and dominated under a new staff.
It was a weird year for Maryland, as it began with the suspension and later the firing of head coach D.J. Durkin, leaving interim head coach Matt Canada in charge. Things started off great for the Terrapins, defeating No. 23 Texas in the season opener, but it would all go south from there. They lost starting QB Kasim Hill to a torn ACL at the beginning of November, which certainly didn’t help things the remainder of the year. The Terps would finish the campaign 5-7, including a 3-6 record in Big Ten play that saw their only conference wins come against Minnesota, Rutgers and Illinois.
While the events of this afternoon made for an entertaining football game overall, it was anything but for fans of Ohio State. The Buckeyes entered a truly unexpected house of horrors upon their arrival in College Park, and it began right from Maryland’s opening possession.
The Terrapins would go on to recover their ensuing kickoff after it took a funny bounce, but a fumble on their very first play gave the ball to the Buckeyes. OSU would muster a field goal, and it seemed like things had settled down a bit. Mistakes happen right? There’s no way Ohio State would let Maryland score again that easily...
Trailing 14-3 early in the first quarter, things went from bad to worse. Ohio State’s offense sputtered, turning the ball over on downs and giving Maryland the ball right back. The Terps added another field goal shortly thereafter, and just like that the Buckeyes shockingly trailed 17-3 to a team that had lost three of their last four games.
OSU continued to struggle on both sides of the ball, and were forced to punt on their ensuing possession. Luckily for them, the Terrapins whiffed on a 36-yard field goal to keep the score where it was, and Ohio State was able to follow it up with its first big play of the day as Dwayne Haskins found Terry McLaurin for a huge 61-yard touchdown.
However, the woes for Ohio State’s defense would not end there. Maryland continued to absolutely gouge the Buckeyes in the run game, thanks largely in part to the Bill Davis-coached linebackers playing desperately out of position. It wasn’t long before the Terps were on the board again with another rushing TD, this time on a 16-yard scamper by Javon Leake — their third of the day after the first two big runs by Anthony McFarland.
Urban Meyer’s offense was starting to come around, and it really needed to based on the effort he was getting on the defensive side of the ball. Another big catch by McLaurin and a long 20-yard rush by J.K. Dobbins set up an easy punch-in TD from the 1-yard line as Ohio State cut the deficit back to a one-score game, now trailing 24-17 as we neared the end of the second quarter.
The Ohio State defense finally got a much-needed stop on the next Maryland possession, but it was all for naught as the Buckeyes coughed up the ball inside the red zone. An 85-yard drive resulted in nothing more than a fumble, and the two teams went into halftime with the Terps still in the lead, 24-17.
Much like the first half, the second half started off about as bad as Ohio State could have imagined. On the second play of the drive, Haskins was picked off by RaVon Davis on a tipped pass, and he returned it 37 yards for a TD.
The Buckeyes were able to answer with a long drive once the offense re-took the field, ending in a Haskins 2-yard TD scramble to cut the deficit back down to seven points. Both offenses would go quiet for the remainder of the third quarter, with a couple of punts sandwiched around yet another Ohio State fumble.
It wasn’t until the start of the fourth that either team would find the end zone again, but the Scarlet and Gray found a way to even things up. A short field set the Buckeyes up near the Maryland 40-yard line, and after a couple of runs by Dobbins and a few quick completions by Haskins, the QB found K.J. Hill for the TD to even things up at 31-31.
After a pretty quiet third quarter, things really opened up in the fourth as both offenses started to trade points. Maryland re-took the lead on a 27-yard passing TD by Tyrrell Pigrome, but Ohio State tied it right back up on its next drive with another short rushing TD by Haskins. The Terps would actually wind up fumbling it into the end zone on their next possession after a 60-yard completion set them up on the goal line, but once again OSU would find a way to tie as Binjimen Victor’s 3-yard TD reception had the game knotted up at 45-45 with just under a minute remaining.
After all of the calamity, the game would go to overtime. Ohio State started with the ball on offense first, but it would not be easy. Meyer took a risk by going for it on 4th-and-1, and they converted on a 11-yard reception by Rashod Berry. A few plays later, Haskins ran it in for a 5-yard read option TD, putting the pressure back on Maryland to respond with the Buckeyes now leading 52-45 in the extra period.
The Terps answered fast. McFarland’s 24-yard rush on their first play of OT set them up at the 1-yard line, and they punched it in one play later. As the big underdogs on their home field, Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada elected to go for two to try and win the game right then and there..
The pass would fall incomplete, and Ohio State held on to defeat Maryland 52-51. It was an ugly game for the Buckeyes’ defense, and one they probably should have lost if it weren’t for their high-powered offense and some big mistakes by the Terrapins. The game was really a microcosm for the entire 2018 season, as OSU’s failures on the defensive side of the ball cost them a shot at competing for a national title.
LGHL Season Stat Leaders (OSU 4-0)
- Terrelle Pryor: 499 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT (2 games)
- Dwayne Haskins: 405 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT
- Cardale Jones: 187 Yds / 2 TD / 1 INT
- J.K. Dobbins: 203 Yds / 5.5 Avg / 1 TD
- Terrelle Pryor: 185 Yds / 4.6 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- Ezekiel Elliott: 122 Yds / 11.1 Avg / 1 TD
- DeVier Posey: 12 Rec / 206 Yds / 1 TD (2 games)
- Johnnie Dixon: 7 Rec / 131 Yds / 0 TD (2 games)
- Terry McLaurin: 4 Rec / 118 Yds / 1 TD
- Chase Young: 2.0
- Tyquan Lewis: 1.5
- Six tied at 1.0
- Chimdi Chekwa: 2 (2 games)
- Cam Heyward/Nathan Williams/Ross Homan: 1 (2 games)
- Tyvis Powell: 1
Justin Fields makes his Perfect Season debut next week, as the Buckeyes will travel to Lincoln for a prime time matchup with Nebraska (2019).