Ohio State (4-1, 1-0) opened conference play in style, led in large part by redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. The quarterback had another big game and had a hand in five touchdowns – four passing and one rushing. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 267 yards and added 71 yards on the ground. He sparked an offense that totaled 533 yards and recorded 26 first downs.
Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott led the rushing attack with a second straight solid effort. He rushed for 139 yards on 24 carries. Nine different receivers caught passes for the Buckeyes, led by wide receivers Michael Thomas and Corey Smith, who both grabbed four passes. Thomas gained 75 yards on those hauls and scored a touchdown, while Smith added 44 yards. Senior wideout Devin Smith and junior tight end Nick Vannett also caught Barrett TD passes.
Defensively, the Buckeyes recorded four interceptions. The secondary did allow 244 yards and a touchdown, but it was a big improvement from its struggles against Cincinnati.
Maryland (4-2, 1-1) entered the game with a question mark under center. Sixth-year senior C.J. Rowe, who suffered a wrist injury against Indiana, made the start but only played the first half. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 71 yards and an interception. Backup Caleb Rowe fared worse. The junior completed 13 of 22 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown and three picks.
The Buckeyes led the Terrapins to 66 yards on the ground, with Brandon Ross leading the way with 38 yards and a touchdown. Standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught a team-high seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown but failed to make an impact as a returner on special teams.
Ohio State took the opening kickoff and quickly established its running game. The No. 20 Buckeyes marched 75 yards in 3:01, capping their drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by fifth-year senior Rod Smith. Utilizing a quick tempo attack, the Buckeyes rushed seven times for 67 yards. Elliott rushed four times for 45 of those yards, including a 28-yard gain after taking an option pitch from Barrett.
Barrett added a 20-yard run during the drive and also completed his only pass attempt – an 8-yard connection with senior Evan Spencer that put the ball on the Maryland 1-yard line. Rod Smith then reached the end zone on a rush up the middle out of the pistol formation to give the Buckeyes an early lead. Freshman Sean Nuernberger’s PAT made it 7-0 with 11:59 left in the first quarter.
Maryland was forced to punt on its first possession, but not Brown missed tight end P.J. Gallo open past the Ohio State secondary.
The Buckeyes against sliced through the Terrapins on their next possession. Back-to-back jet sweep runs by sophomore Dontre Wilson – one to the left and one running right – gained 20 of 73 yards during the drive. Barrett later extended Ohio State’s advantage with a picture-perfect fade pass into the end zone that was hauled in by redshirt freshman Jalin Marshall on a third-and-goal play from the Maryland 9.
Nuernberger’s PAT made it 14-0 with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
Maryland answered the second touchdown with its first points of the game. Taking over at their 35 after OSU kicker kyle clinton booted a kickoff out of bounds, the Terrapins gained 23 yards on a Brandon Ross rush on their first play and just three more before Brad Craddock drilled a wind-aided 57-yard field goal with 5:00 left in the opening quarter.
It was Craddock’s 17th consecutive made field goal, which set a Maryland record, and a career long.
Ohio State failed to score on its next drive, but the Buckeye again drove into Maryland territory before Nuernberger missed a 48-yard field goal wide right early in the second quarter. That was just a momentary blip for Barrett and company. After the OSU defense forced a three-and-out, the Buckeyes went back to work with Barrett carrying the load. He opened the drive, which began at the Ohio State 44, with an 8-yard rush and then followed that with a 23-yard gain on a keeper up the middle.
Following those two rushes, Barrett went to the air, tossing a pass to Thomas in the back of the end zone. Thomas drew a defensive pass interference penalty, but it was declined because he hauled in the ball and remained in bounds as he landed. The Nuernberger PAT made it 21-3 with 12:09 left before halftime.
Nurenberger widened Ohio State’s lead with 8:59 remaining before the break with a 28-yard field goal. The Buckeyes took over at the Maryland 40 after a 26-yard punt by Terrapins punter Nathan Renfro and quickly reached the red zone on a 26-yard reception by Thomas. Ohio State gained just seven yards in its next three plays, however, leading to the field goal.
Maryland attempted to take momentum into the break by scoring its first touchdown of the game late in the second quarter. The 13-play, 75-yard drive was highlighted by a fourth-down conversion near midfield. Facing a fourth-and-5 from the OSU 45, Brown dropped back to pass and found no one open. He then kept the ball and scrambled 15 yards to the 30.
Ohio State later extended the drive when Doran Grant was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on a Brown third-down incompletion. The penalty put the ball on the OSU 2, and Wes Brown dove into the end zone on the next play. Craddock’s PAT made it 24-10 with 2:34 left in the second quarter.
The Terrapins forced Ohio State to punt for the first time on the ensuing possession, but a crucial mistake turned the tide. A 69-yard punt by Ohio State sophomore Cameron Johnston gave Maryland the ball at its own 7. With one timeout left and heading into the wind, Brown went back to pass, was pressured by sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa and was intercepted by OSU redshirt linebacker Darron Lee at the 16. Lee raced toward the goal line but had the ball stripped at the 6, where freshman Raekwon McMillan scooped it up and advanced it to the UM 1.
It only took one play for the Buckeyes to make the Terrapins pay for the miscue. Barrett found an open Nick Vannett for a short touchdown pass with 57 seconds left in the quarter.
The Ohio State defense forced a three-and-out to start the second half, and Wilson returned a Renfro punt 32 yards to the UM 29. The Buckeyes advanced the ball all the way to the 3 – thanks in large part to a 25-yard reception by Corey Smith on a third-and-12 – but were held on downs when Barrett failed to find an open receiver and was brought down for a 3-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Maryland attempted to build some momentum off its defensive stand, driving all the way to the OSU 27 before Rowe – who took over under center for Brown after halftime – had a pass intercepted by OSU redshirt freshman cornerback Eli Apple in the end zone.
While the Terrapins could not make the Buckeyes pay for their turnover, Ohio State’s offense did. Elliott started the 80-yard march for a pair of 11-yard runs, and after Barrett completed a 28-yard pass to senior tight end Jeff Heuerman that advanced the ball to the UM 30, Barrett threw his fourth touchdown pass of the afternoon on a strike down the middle to a leaping Devin Smith. The PAT upped the Ohio State lead to 38-10 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.
Maryland responded by scoring its second touchdown of the afternoon, going on a 75-yard drive that took seven plays. Ross rushed for a 2-yard score that, after a PAT, cut Maryland’s deficit to 38-17 with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Barrett added his fifth touchdown of the afternoon on the first play of the fourth quarter. This time he used his legs to reach the end zone, scrambling for a 9-yard score with 14:54 left on the clock. The extra point made it 45-17.
Ohio State’s maligned secondary made its first mistake of the game on the ensuing drive. Sophomore Cam Burrows was beat by Jacquille Veii on a 60-yard pass that set up a 4-yard touchdown catch by Diggs with 13:32 on the clock that helped cut the OSU lead to 45-24.
The defense got a bit of revenge and set the final score when McMillan picked off a Rowe pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown, his first as a collegiate athlete. The PAT by Nuernberger pushed Ohio State past the 50-point mark, giving them a 52-24 lead with 8:58 remaining.