Coming into the game as massive favorites, the only question surrounding the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes was whether they would maintain their focus against an outgunned and overmatched Maryland team.
That answer came early —and emphatically — as Ohio State scored 42 first-half points en route to a 73-14 blowout of Maryland (3-7 ) on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Quarterback Justin Fields turned in another spectacular performance, completing 16 of his 25 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns in just two quarters of action. He added another touchdown on the ground.
Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague III combined for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Dobbins ran for 90 yards and the two scores on 12 carries, while Teague accounted for 111 yards on 19 carries.
Playing in their first game without suspended defensive end Chase Young, the Ohio State defense played inspired and relentless from the opening drive, forcing a Maryland three-and-out.
Taking over at the Maryland 47-yard line to open their first drive, Fields and the Ohio State offense needed just six plays to find the end zone. Fields found Binjimen Victor for a 12-yard touchdown catch and run to give the Buckeyes an early 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
Maryland was again unable to pick up a first down on their next drive, and the Ohio State offense came back out onto the field to start their second drive at their own 29-yard line.
Eleven plays later, Fields capped off a 71-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown scamper to increase the Ohio State lead to 14-0 with just over five minutes still to play in the first quarter.
With the rout already underway, things would only get worse for Maryland as head coach Ryan Day pulled no punches on the ensuing kickoff.
Kicker Blake Haubeil lofted a beautifully-executed pooch kick down the Ohio State sideline. Chris Olave was left unblocked, running free down the sideline and catching the kick in stride as if hauling in a perfect pass from the foot of his kicker.
After the game, Day said of his decision to kick the onside, “There was something that we saw on film, (special teams coordinator) Matt Barnes saw, and we thought that we had a real shot at it. And the guys practiced it during the week.”
As for the execution of the kick, he said, “You talk about competitive excellence, that couldn’t have been executed any better. That was as clean as it could be. It was cool to feel the excitement in the stadium about that kick; it was, like, ‘Wow!’”
Ohio State would cash in on the recovered onside kick eight plays later when Fields found K.J. Hill for a 4-yard touchdown pass to give the Buckeyes a 21-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Another touchdown pass by Fields to Olave and two touchdown runs by Dobbins made it six straight drives that ended in touchdowns and gave the Buckeyes a 42-0 lead heading into halftime.
Maryland was held to just five first downs and 66 yards of total offense in the first half, while Ohio State racked up 22 first downs and 363 yards.
With most of the starters’ days already finished as the second half began, Ohio State took the opportunity to show off its depth chart on both sides of the ball over the final two quarters.
Backup quarterback Chris Chugunov got in on the scoring, connecting with Garrett Wilson on a 14-yard strike to up the Buckeye lead to 49-0. Haubeil added a 23-yard field goal, and running backs Marcus Crowley and Demario McCall added fourth-quarter touchdown runs to round out the scoring for Ohio State.
Ohio State finished with 705 yards of total offense, their highest output of the season while holding Maryland to just 139 yards.
Despite the absence of the team’s sack leader in Young, the Silver Bullets still managed seven sacks, led by Tyreke Smith and Davon Hamilton, who had two each. The sack total is the most this season for Ohio State.
Day said of the play of his defense, particularly the defensive line, “They all wanted to show they’re a team, this is a defense, and this is a defensive line unit, more than just one person. And I think they had their chests out and were proud of the way they played today, and they should have been. They played with an edge and something to prove. And any time our guys come out with something to prove, we’re dangerous.”
Now 9-0 on the season, Ohio State will travel to Rutgers next week as they look to remain unbeaten. The time for that game has been announced as a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, and Big Ten Network will have the broadcast.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.