COLUMBUS — Behind 293 first-half passing yards and three touchdowns by quarterback C.J. Stroud, Ohio State built a 25-point halftime lead and never looked back en route to a 66-17 win over Maryland on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Stroud finished with 406 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters of work, and the Ohio State offense scored touchdowns on each of its first eight possessions before the starters exited the game. As a team, Ohio State compiled 598 yards of total offense.
Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson turned in yet another impressive performance, rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries while adding four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Olave led all receivers with seven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba also went over the century mark with 103 receiving yards on five catches. Garrett Wilson added five catches, two of which went for touchdowns.
Coming off of a brutal performance in which he threw five interceptions a week ago, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa rebounded to throw for 279 yards and two touchdowns. However, Tagavailoa was sacked five times and the Terrapins were held to just 56 yards rushing yards in the losing effort.
Defensively, Buckeyes linebacker Steele Chambers led the way with six solo tackles and a sack. True freshmen defensive ends Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau each recorded a sack as part of another big day for the Ohio State defensive line.
Despite the lopsided final score, it was Maryland that got on the board first with a lengthy opening drive that ended with a 48-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino to give the Terrapins an early 3-0 lead.
Ohio State wasted no time in answering back on its opening possession, putting together a 17-play, 88-yard drive that was capped off by a short touchdown pass from Stroud to Wilson. Noah Ruggles added the extra point and the Buckeyes took their first lead of the game at 7-3 with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Following a three-and-out by Maryland, the Ohio State offense needed just five plays to extend its lead. Completions by Stroud to Wilson for 29 yards and Henderson for 30 yards set the Buckeyes up at the Maryland 4-yard line, and Henderson finished off the drive with his first touchdown run of the day to move the score to 14-3.
Stroud added his second touchdown pass of the half on Ohio State’s next possession, connecting with Olave for a 36-yard score as the Buckeyes threatened to blow the game open early.
Down 21-3 minutes into the second quarter, Maryland put together its most impressive drive of the game, marching 75 yards on 12 plays. Tagovailoa found Carlos Carriere for a 7-yard touchdown pass to temporarily cut into the deficit with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Stroud’s third touchdown pass of the half rendered Maryland’s momentum short-lived, however, and Master Teague III added a touchdown run just before halftime to send Ohio State into the break with a comfortable 35-10 lead.
Ohio State received the kickoff to begin the second half and struck quickly to add to their already sizable lead. Stroud’s second touchdown pass of the afternoon to Wilson capped off a seven-play opening drive and extended the lead to 42-10 just over two minutes into the third quarter.
A 30-yard touchdown catch by Olave and a 14-yard touchdown run by Henderson closed out the third quarter as Ohio State took a 56-17 lead into the fourth quarter. Stroud’s big day was done following the third quarter as head coach Ryan Day got both Kyle McCord and Jack Miller into the game for the third consecutive week.
Day said of Stroud’s performance following the game, “I think he’s executing at a fairly high level right now. He still has a lot to build on. He’ll tell you he missed on a few things coming out of halftime. We have to keep building on that, but I think his preparation has been excellent. I think he sees the field well. He has some good players around him, but he’s also been making some really good throws. His timing has been right, he’s seeing the field, he’s making good decisions, so that’s allowed us to run the offense and be really efficient. Is he there yet? Absolutely not. He still has a long way to go, but I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen the last two weeks.”
Ruggles added a fourth-quarter field goal for Ohio State to increase the lead to 59-17, and Craig Young returned a Tagavailoa interception for a touchdown as the Buckeye backups played out the final minutes of the game. Young’s pick-six marked the fourth consecutive week the Ohio State defense has scored a touchdown, a stat that underscores the confidence the unit is playing with after a rough start to the season.
Following the game, Day said of why his defense is getting better, “I don’t think there is just one thing you can point to. I think it’s a young team that is growing. I think we’ve been more aggressive. I think we’re building more confidence and more energy. I think it’s a little bit of all those things.”
With the win, Ohio State improves to 5-1 on the season and 3-0 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes will get a breather with the upcoming bye week before resuming play at Indiana on Oct. 23.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.