There are certain mistakes a football team can make that are nearly always fatal. Victory just doesn’t follow when you make them.
The Buckeyes made nearly every kind of that sort of mistake in the first half against Maryland, with special teams being a prime culprit. Ohio State allowed a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, had a field goal blocked, and botched a point after touchdown.
And that was just the first quarter.
A shanked punt and a delay of game on a kickoff were lowlights of the second quarter, as was a lost fumble to set up the Maryland offense deep in OSU territory. To say that the special teams were horrible would be an insult to the word horrible.
“A young freshman gave up a little blocked field goal,” Urban Meyer said after the game. “Our punter did not hit, the freshman punter didn’t hit it very well. And then a veteran kicker, I’m still befuddled with. We’re the only team in the country that can’t kick the ball down the field. It’s something I have to strongly evaluate and find out why.
“And then obviously kick return, you know, part of our kickoff, a big part of our kickoff is kick the ball on target. And we’re not on target. So that’s something to work on and get fixed. And there’s a lot of people upset about that and I’m one of them. We’ll find out.”
It should have been fatal. Instead the Buckeyes totally dominated from scrimmage, outgaining Maryland 361 yards to just 21 yards in the first half.
Yeah, OSU had its ugly moments, but the rest of the time they played so well, particularly on defense, that they went to the halftime locker room with a 41-7 lead despite their glaring miscues.
Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett wasn’t too shabby in the first half either. He completed 17-of-26 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. His TD passes went eight yards to Binjimen Victor, 10 yards to tight end Marcus Baugh, and five yards to Austin Mack. Barrett also scored a touchdown rushing.
The rest of OSU’s scoring came via the ground, including a 20-yard fumble recovery and return for touchdown by Jerome Baker to put Ohio State up 14-0.
The Buckeyes put up three more scores in the second half, all of them on the ground, to lead 62-7. OSU tailbacks Antonio Williams, J. K. Dobbins, and Mike Weber all tallied second-half rushing touchdowns. Maryland scored on offense late in the fourth quarter to make the final 62-14.
For the game, the Buckeyes amassed 584 yards of total offense. Maryland was held to just 66. The Buckeyes brought a balanced offensive attack, gaining 281 yards through the air and 303 on the ground.
Ohio State is now 5-1 on the season and 3-0 in Big Ten play. Maryland falls to 3-2 and 1-1 in league play.