Wow, that was an ugly game. But a win is a win, right? That means the Buckeyes must have done at least one thing better than Maryland! In my eyes, they did a few things more successfully. I believe there are a good amount of positive takeaways from the game, which makes me feel more confident for The Game.
First and foremost, Emeka Egbuka looked like his normal self for the first time in about a month. He had the most yards — with 80 — since he had against Michigan State on Oct. 18, when he had 143. He had six receptions, which was his most since Penn State. In the prior two games, he only had two receptions in each.
This is exactly what I wanted to see from the receivers leading up to The Game. Marvin Harrison Jr. only had 68 receiving yards against the Terps, so it was nice to see Egbuka step up. I feel like he just hasn’t really been targeted that often the past few games, as the Buckeyes have either been relying on the run game or Marv. With Marv being heavily covered against Maryland, Egbuka became the leading receiver.
That’s the thing about this team: it’s always the next man up. There will always be another receiver that shines if needed. The same thing goes for the running backs. Now, in a perfect world, I obviously want all of them to be 100% healthy for Saturday. However, that is highly unlikely, and I’m honestly okay with it.
Dallan Hayden once again proved what a beast he is with his 146 yard performance. Miyan Williams should be good to go after having this past week off. TreVeyon Henderson has been struggling to find success and he is clearly not fully healthy, so if he can’t go on Saturday, I’m not too worried. The Buckeyes also have Xavier Johnson, who is has been a proven back, if they needed to go to a third string.
I have one more point about the offense that I’m happy with. CJ Stroud didn’t have a great game, going 18-for-30 and 241 passing yards (obviously this is still a solid game, but Ohio State fans are spoiled and expect a 400 yard game each week from the Heisman frontrunner). However, the Bucks still found a way to put up 43 points.
Obviously, three touchdowns on the ground from Hayden helped things tremendously. It has seemed like the run game has bailed Stroud out each time (there has been very few) he struggled to get the passing game going. For example, Northwestern was obviously the worst game all year offensively for the Buckeyes. Yet, Miyan Williams ran for 100+ yards and two touchdowns. Once again, against Rutgers when Stroud threw for only 154 yards, Williams ran for 189 yards and five TDs. This is a balanced team.
Lastly, the defense definitely looked rough in some areas. The corners were playing too far back, giving up seven or eight yards every other play it seemed like. There were a lot of missed tackles. 30 points were given up. However, the D came through when needed. This came in the form of two CRUCIAL turnovers. Good things happen when Ohio State forces turnovers.
The Lathan Ransom blocked punt and Johnson recovery combo has quickly become one of my favorite duos. I’m hoping we see it again this weekend. Big plays like that totally change the momentum, as this happened in third quarter, allowing the Buckeyes to score and put them ahead, 17-13.
Arguably the biggest play of the game came when Steele Chambers recovered a fumble caused by Zach Harrison and scored the TD that sealed the deal at the end of the game. The linebacker play has just been outstanding this entire year, as Tommy Eichenberg is Mr. Steady Eddie and Chambers always makes pivotal plays.
In summary, I am choosing to be optimistic about what I watched against Maryland and heading into rivalry week. Receivers and running backs looked good, the team picked up Stroud’s slack and the defense came up big when needed. Buckeye Nation, let’s ride!