The weeks-old tradition of panicking about the Buckeyes continued Saturday. But staring at a 49-28 final score, you wonder if maybe a little patience could have prevented another freak out.
Yes, of all games, this was a game Ohio State should have dominated from the start. Against Maryland — a team looking like the Big Ten’s worst and battling rumors of the imminent firing of head coach Randy Edsall — Ohio State should have proven once and for all it deserves its No. 1 ranking.
But that’s not exactly what happened, at least through the first half.
The Terps actually struck first, as Perry Hills — who was back at the starting quarterback spot after Edsall benched him after Week 2 — pitched a 52-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Moore to start that weekly social-media proclamation that “Ohio State is bad.”
But that proved untrue, as the Buckeyes didn’t take long to respond. A pair of touchdown drives culminated in runs from J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott as Urban Meyer mixed and matched quarterbacks Barrett and Cardale Jones with a good amount of success. Two offensive drives after the go-ahead touchdown, Jones hit Braxton Miller on back-to-back passes totaling 52 yards, the second going for a touchdown.
But with Ohio State looking to be back on track, that panic struck again. Hills rushed 72 yards for a touchdown right before halftime. And he went in from four yards out to cap the opening drive of the second half to tie the game at 21.
As social media went nuts, though, the Buckeyes responded. Jones hit Jalin Marshall for a 48-yard touchdown and Barrett had his second touchdown run of the game before the close of the third quarter. In the fourth, Elliott dashed in for a second time and Barrett made it a hat trick to boost the Buckeyes’ lead to an expected four-touchdown margin.
So while speculation ran wild that Edsall might have survived his apparently impending firing with a huge upset, a three-touchdown loss again raises questions of whether it will come sooner than later with Maryland now at 2-4 on the season.
Those questions became even more relevant after Edsall stormed out of his postgame press conference, upset with a reporter’s question.
The Buckeyes, though, might finally stop getting questions about their “ineffective” offense. Despite continued criticism in recent weeks, Ohio State — a perfect 6-0 on the season — has scored a total of 121 points in its last three games. Meyer’s quarterback carousel on Saturday might actually be what the doctor ordered, as the Buckeyes amassed nearly 500 yards of offense and hit the end zone seven times.
Jones completed 21 of his 28 passing attempts for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Barrett rushed for 62 yards and three touchdowns. Elliott again went over 100 yards, carrying the ball 21 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Hills, whether Edsall survives the weekend or not, might secure the No. 1 quarterback spot going forward for the Terps. He rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns despite completing just 10 passes and throwing a pair of interceptions.