Next week’s much-anticipated Ohio State vs. Michigan matchup will have the high stakes we all expected it to have.
But Maryland almost changed that.
It took overtime, nearly 700 yards of offense and tremendous efforts from Dwayne Haskins and J.K. Dobbins, but the Buckeyes escaped College Park with a dramatic 52-51 victory.
And it all came down to a defensive stop.
After OSU took a lead to open overtime, Maryland quickly responded with a touchdown of its own. But instead of forcing double-overtime, Maryland opted to go for two. Terps quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome rolled right and had Jeshaun Jones open for the win, but the pass sailed wide.
The incompletion allowed Urban Meyer, who looked distressed on the sideline all afternoon, and the Buckeyes to finally exhale and improve to 10-1.
Ohio State’s win sets up a de facto Big Ten East title game next week against the Wolverines where a spot in the Big Ten title game — and potentially the College Football Playoff — will be on the line.
Ohio State tied the game three times in the fourth quarter
Behind a remarkable performance from Anthony McFarland, Maryland jumped out to a two-score first-half lead. McFarland rushed for a whopping 298 yards, with 155 of those yards coming on his first three carries of the game. For real. The talented redshirt freshman gashed the leaky OSU defense for touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards in the first six minutes of regulation.
The lead grew to 17-3 after the first quarter. From there, Ohio State’s offense was left playing catch up.
The Buckeyes cut the Terps’ lead to 24-17 at halftime, but a pick-six by RaVon Davis extended that lead to 31-17 early in the second half. However, Haskins, Dobbins and the OSU offense kept battling, tying the score three times — 31-31, 38-38 and 45-45 — in the fourth quarter. Haskins accounted for all three of those touchdowns, and six in all — three through the air and three on the ground.
Dwayne Haskins, J.K. Dobbins picked up OSU’s defense
A one-yard Haskins touchdown run tied the score at 38 apiece with 3:41 left in regulation. On Maryland’s next offensive play, Pigrome found Darryl Jones behind the defense for a huge gain to the 1-yard line. Eventually — after Maryland was given an automatic first down on a questionable pass interference penalty in the end zone — the Terps took a 45-38 advantage on a wacky play with 1:41 to play.
McFarland fumbled as he extended for the goal line, but Chigoziem Okonkwo was there to pounce on the loose ball for a score.
But the Maryland defense couldn’t hold. With help from a Demario McCall kickoff return to midfield, OSU needed only 1:01 to tie the score, this time on a three-yard Haskins TD pass to Binjimen Victor, and force overtime.
Haskins, who has been much maligned for his struggles presenting a rushing threat, kept on a read option and registered his third rushing score of the game to open overtime. And thanks to Pigrome’s misfire, that proved to be the winning play.
Haskins played perhaps his best game of the year, with 405 passing yards, 59 rushing yards and six total TDs. Dobbins had a huge day, too, going for 203 yards on 38 carries — both career highs.
Ohio State’s defense continues to struggle mightily
It’s been an obvious weakness all season long, but the Ohio State defense had no answer for Maryland the entire game. This is the same Maryland team that had recent efforts of 115 total yards in a loss to Iowa and 100 total yards in a loss to Michigan State. Yet on Saturday, the Terps, playing with a backup quarterback, gashed the Buckeyes for 535 yards and 51 points.
With No. 4 Michigan visiting next weekend, the Buckeyes better figure some things out, and do so quickly. Or it could end up being a long day.
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