Earlier this year after the Rutgers game, I used some inspiration from The Sopranos to wrap up the win over the Scarlet Knights. I figured I’d channel the same energy to put a bow on the game against Maryland, using some quotes from The Wire, which another of my favorite shows ever.
“Let’s go home”
Ohio State closed out their regular season road schedule with a 43-30 win over Maryland earlier today. Even though the Buckeyes were nearly four touchdown favorites in the game, they were never really able to create any separation on the scoreboard. Ohio State didn’t take long to score the first touchdown of the game, scoring just a minute and a half after the opening kickoff when C.J. Stroud found TreVeyon Henderson for a 31-yard touchdown pass.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that was about all the highlights we would get out of the Buckeye quarterback and running back. Ohio State’s offense struggled to find any traction the rest of the half, while the defense bent but didn’t break. Maryland would actually head into halftime with a 13-10 lead, but the Terrapins could have been up by more had the Ohio State defense not held a couple times inside the red zone.
Dallan Hayden scored the first of his three second half touchdowns just three minutes into the second half to give Ohio State a 17-13 lead. The Buckeyes wouldn’t trail again in the game. While the Terrapins scored a couple touchdowns, they weren’t able to get any closer than 33-30 the rest of the way. Even though the Buckeyes will likely want to forget this game happened and turn their attention to Michigan, they can take a little comfort in the fact that all four teams currently ranked in the CFP top-four struggled today, and Ohio State actually had the largest margin of victory amongst the four.
“In business... life... what you learn to appreciate is a dependable man... One day same as the next...”
Over the last two games for the Buckeyes, the most dependable player on the Ohio State offense has been Dallan Hayden. Last week Hayden took the reins after Miyan Williams was injured in the second quarter against Indiana. This week the freshman running back took over after TreVeyon Henderson barely saw the field in the second half after it looked like he reaggravated the foot injury he has been dealing with for much of the season.
Unlike against Toledo and Indiana where he ran for over 100 yards when the game was already decided, Hayden came up clutch with the result still in the balance. Hayden scored three touchdowns in the second half, finishing the game with a career-high 146 yards on the ground. Depending on how Williams and Henderson’s injuries progress this week, Hayden could be a big part of the Buckeye game plan next week against the Wolverines. Even though Hayden came to Columbus as a highly touted recruit, nobody imagined him having this big of an impact as a freshman.
“We ain’t gotta dream no more, man.”
After months of speculating that it could possibly happen, we can officially say we are getting undefeated Michigan against undefeated Ohio State next Saturday. Both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes were pushed to the limit by their opponents today, but they both survived, staying perfect on the season.
Michigan has more questions to answer after their 19-17 win over Illinois, though. There will be plenty of speculation on the health of running back Blake Corum after he was injured in the victory over the Fighting Illini. The Wolverines desperately need Corum to be able to play next Saturday since quarterback J.J. McCarthy hasn’t impressed with his ability to pass the football.
Ohio State has undoubtedly been looking forward to November 26 for nearly 360 days after falling to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor last year. The Buckeyes have heard the chirping that has come from Michigan after the loss. After hearing people talk about how soft they played against the Wolverines last year, Ohio State is going to have some extra juice this year, as they try and atone for the 42-27 loss.
“You come at the king, you best not miss.”
There have been multiple games over the last month where Ohio State has looked like they were in trouble, only to find their way when it counts and pull out the victory. Today’s win over the Terrapins wasn’t the prettiest victory, but it was a victory, and that’s all that matters. While Maryland did hang around and kept the score within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes showed why they are the class of the conference.
Since they are the defending Big Ten champions, you could say the same thing about Michigan’s win over Illinois. The Wolverines were in even worse shape than Ohio State late in the game against the Fighting Illini, and benefitted from a couple questionable calls from the officials that rightfully caught the ire of Illinois head coach Bret Bielema. We have seen this movie play out a number of times before, with the Buckeyes and Wolverines almost sleepwalking through their last game leading up to The Game. It’s almost like the rivals are so excited to play each other that sometimes they forget their is business to handle the week before.
Credit to Maryland, though. The Terrapins came into today’s game coming off two straight losses, not playing well at all in either of those games. The Terrapins gave it their all and had a chance to win with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter before a couple big play by Zach Harrison sealed the game for Ohio State. With how their last two trips to College Park have gone, the Buckeyes have to be happy to not have to return to Maryland for a couple years.
“A wise man does not burn his bridges until he first knows he can part the waters.”
There has been a lot of criticism of Ryan Day over the last year. Some of it is deserved, while some of it is a result of Ohio State fans being spoiled. Since after the bye week, there have been some slow starts and lethargic performances by the Buckeyes. The bottom line is Ohio State has still won all those games.
Against Iowa, the Buckeyes didn’t look great in the first half, yet still won 54-10. The next week they were tested by Penn State and saved by an incredible performance by J.T. Tuimoloau. Then the Buckeyes could do anything in the wind against Northwestern. Last week Ohio State was dominant against Indiana, and this week saw some first half struggles before doing what they had to beat the Terrapins.
Even though Day isn’t perfect, he still has only lost four games as head coach in Columbus. There are many schools that would kill to have a coach like Day in charge of their program, while at Ohio State some fans are looking for any excuse they can find to get rid of the head coach. Be careful what you wish for. If some fans were to get their wish, who could take over and keep Ohio State in position as one of the best teams in the country.
College football is so different now than it was even 10 years ago because of NIL legislation. While things haven’t been perfect when it comes to recruiting and some decommitments, the Buckeyes are still bringing in some of the best talent in the country. Things are going to change even more with the playoffs expanding in a few years, and soon there will be a little more margin for error with the field expanding to 12 teams.
Be careful what you wish for.