A grade card on Ohio State’s 62-14 win over Maryland on Saturday night, which along with its 56-0 win over Rutgers last week, completed the Buckeyes’ 2017 Remind Us Again Why The Big Ten Invited These Guys To Join Tour:
OSU’s offense wasn’t perfect, including losing two fumbles, but it was pretty good. Quarterback J.T. Barrett threw three touchdown passes, giving him 16 for the season, and did not throw an interception for the fifth time in the Buckeyes’ six games. He has been intercepted only once this season.
Barrett appeared to be taking a few more chances and threw to receivers who were less than completely open, something Ohio State’s coaches have encouraged him to do. He talked about “letting it rip” after the game.
J.K. Dobbins (96 yards), Barrett (59 yards) and Mike Weber (59 yards) combined for 76 percent of OSU’s rushing yards but Parris Campbell had the flashiest running play when he went 24 yards after taking a pitch from Dobbins, who had taken a handoff from Barrett.
Ohio State adjusted to the loss of starting guard Branden Bowen to a broken leg but his injury could create some uncertainty.
For the second straight week, Ohio State’s defensive line consistently dominated an opposing offensive line. Maryland was down to its third string quarterback, Max Bortenschlager, and he never had a chance to throw the ball with OSU’s defensive line in his face and its defensive backfield shutting down D.J. Moore, who came into the game as the Big Ten’s leading receiver.
Bortenschlager was 3 of 12 for 16 yards and Moore caught two passes for 11 yards.
Ohio State’s linebackers, who had been a mystery and at times probably a disappointment, made plays, starting with Jerome Baker recovering a fumble and scoring a touchdown in the first quarter after Nick Bosa jarred the ball loose from Bortenschlager. That was Ohio State’s first defensive score of the season after getting seven last season.
Ohio State’s defense held Maryland to 66 yards total offense, so there was not much to complain about except two targeting calls against Buckeyes cornerbacks. The first, against Denzel Ward, was questionable. The other, against Damon Arnette, looked so bad he should have been given his own ejection and Ward’s too.
Special Teams: F
OSU coach Urban Meyer emphasizes special teams. So film sessions might not be much fun for the special teams guys this week after they compiled a long list of glaring mistakes — allowing a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, allowing a blocked field goal, a bobbled extra point snap, a 21-yard punt, a delay of game penalty on a kickoff, a block in the back on an OSU kick return, a missed field goal and a kickoff that went out of bounds.
Nobody is ready to call Ohio State a finished product and Meyer declining to agree with the characterization of the defense as a playing at a championship level on Saturday was predictable. But the Buckeyes have showed steady improvement since losing to Oklahoma. Making big plays on offense is one area where this shows up. OSU had seven offensive plays of 35 yards or more against Maryland.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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