The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Maryland Terrapins 62-14 Saturday in The ‘Shoe, but the game wasn’t as smooth or pretty as the final score would lead you to believe. During this stretch of the schedule where the Buckeyes are clearly the more dominant team, it’s more important how you look winning than just to get the W. Ohio State will have to be more impressive in their wins against inferior completion in order to impress the College Football Playoff Committee, especially with the Oklahoma Sooners losing.
With that being said, here are my takeaways from the Buckeyes win over the Terps.
* The Special teams unit was anything but, and is likely to get the brunt of the verbal attacks from the coaching staff this week. Everyone knows how seriously Coach Urban Meyer takes that unit. They allowed a 100-yard kickoff return by TY Johnson after scoring their second touchdown. On kickoffs, I always hated how they justified the lineup tight and to the left. Most teams spread the formation to create lanes of containment across the field.
From there the miscues poured in like a spring shower. A botched snap and hold on the extra point after their third touchdown, blocked kick on their fourth possession, shanked punt for 21 yards on the fifth possession, false start on a kickoff with 4:48 remaining in the 2nd quarter, and a 29-yard missed field goal by Sean Nuernberger on their first drive of the second half.
Individually these mistakes would be enough to drown the Buckeyes against a better opponent. Much like the block field goal at Penn State last season that essentially lost that game. This unit has been a problem for a while now. The two missed field goals against Michigan made that win more difficult than it had to be. And as much as I’d like to forget it, the two missed field goals against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal preserved the 31-0 shut out for the eventual National Champions. Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better. And it’s at its absolute worst right now. Coach Meyer cut his teeth on special teams and I have no doubt that he’ll correct these mistakes before it cost them again in 2017.
* Like last week, the penalties piled up for the Scarlet and Gray. Against Rutgers the Zebras hit them up 10 times for 106 yards. This week against Maryland it was 8 penalties for 85 yards. So I guess you can there was some improvement. The Buckeyes are 95th out of 130 in the NCAA in penalties, and are the most penalized team in the B1G.
* Speaking of penalties, the targeting rule is the worst rule in ALL OF SPORTS!! No hyperbole. Denzel Ward was ejected for putting his shoulder into the chest of Taivon Jacobs after he made a catch causing him to flip backwards and lose the ball–it should have been called a fumble–which Ward picked up and was running for a TD when the play was called dead and the flag thrown.
Here’s my suggestion to improve the rule. Go ahead throw the flag and review it on the field.But there should be two levels of discipline like flagrant fouls in basketball. Flagrant one: for incidental contact above the shoulders and to the head and neck area. That would result in a 15-yard penalty. Flagrant two, the more egregious attack on the head and neck area that would bring a 15-yard penalty and ejection of the offending player. I think that would be pleasing to all parties. I agree that a rule is necessary to encourage player safety, but since its use in play the application of it has been ridiculous flubbed by officials.
The rule also shouldn’t come with an automatic suspension. The Monday after the game, have the play reviewed by the higher-ups at conference commissioners’ office, someone other than the game officials. Then decide if the offense is warranted of a suspension for the upcoming game.
* JT stays steady. Buckeye Nation is split on Barrett’s ability to put this team on his back and carry them back to the College Football Playoffs and a National Championship. But he just continues to get the job done. Saturday he connected with seven different receivers while throwing three touchdowns for 261 passing yards on 20 completions against 31 attempts. Oh and he ran for 59 yards and a touchdown. Buckeye Nation, Just Touchdowns Barrett is fine!
* The defense was stout once again. Maryland was only able to gain 66 (50 rushing; 16 passing) 26 of those came in the first half when the first string was still in. They also only allowed 7 points. Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano’s unit has not given up 100 yards passing since losing to Oklahoma. I don’t care about the level of competition they’ve face since. In this era of College Football when everyone is putting up video game numbers, their play is very impressive.
It’s on to Lincoln, Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:37 pm.
Urban Meyer is now 10-1 versus his former assistant coaches turned head coaches. Maryland’s head coach D.J. Durkin was on Meyer’s staff at Bowling Green (2001-2002) and at Florida.
In their four game win streak, the Buckeyes have outscored their opponents 210-42.