Wow, that was an ugly game. But a win is a win, right? Which means the Buckeyes must have done at least one thing better than Maryland! In my eyes, they did some things more successfully. I think there is a good amount of positive take from the game, which makes me feel more confident in The Game.
First of all, Emeka Egbuka looked like his normal self for the first time in about a month. He had the most receiving yards—with 80—since he faced off against Michigan State on October 18, when he had 143. He had six receptions, his most since Penn State. In the previous two games, he had only had two receptions in each.
This is exactly what I wanted to see from the receivers that preceded The Game. Marvin Harrison Jr. only had 68 yards to the Terps, so it was good to see Igbuka get the lead. I feel like he hasn’t really been targeted that often in the last few games the Buckeyes have either been relying on the running game or Marv. With Marv covering hard against Maryland, Egbuka became the leading receiver.
That’s the thing about this team: He’s always the next guy. There will always be another receiver to light up if needed. The same goes for their backs. Now, in a perfect world, I’d obviously want all of them to be 100% healthy for Saturday. However, this is highly unlikely, and I honestly agree with that.
Dalan Hayden once again proved he’s a beast with his 146-yard performance. Mayaan Williams should be good to go after last weekend’s break. TreVeyon Henderson has been struggling with success and is clearly not healthy, so if he can’t go on Saturday I’m not too concerned. The Buckeyes also have Xavier Johnson, who has proven his back, should they need to move to a third series.
I have one more point about the offence, which I am happy about. CJ Stroud didn’t have a great game, going 18-for-30 and 241 yards (obviously, this is still a solid game, but Ohio State fans are spoiled and expect a 400-yard game every week from Heisman’s top rusher). However, the dollar still found a way to put 43 pips.
Obviously, three touchdowns on the floor from Hayden helped things a great deal. The running game seemed to get Stroud out every time (there were quite a few of them) he struggled to get ahead of the passing game. For example, Northwestern clearly had the worst offensive game all year for the Buckeyes. However, Mayann Williams ran for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Again, against Rutgers when Stroud threw for only 154 yards, Williams ran for 189 yards and five TDs. This is a balanced team.
Finally, the defense definitely looked tough in some areas. The Corners were playing so far, they seemed to give up seven or eight yards on every other play. There were a lot of missed tackles. 30 points are given up. However, D came up when needed. This came in the form of two crucial coups. Good things happen when Ohio forces employee resignations.
Lathan Ransom’s Banned Punt and Johnson Recovery combo has quickly become one of my favorite duos. Hope we see him again this weekend. Big plays like that completely change the momentum, as did the third quarter, which allowed the Buckeyes to score and put them ahead, 17-13.
Arguably the biggest play of the game came when Steel Chambers recovered a fumble caused by Zach Harrison and scored the deal-breaking TD goal at the end of the game. The linebacker’s play has been great this entire year, Tommy Eichenberg is Mr. Steady Eddie and Chambers always makes pivotal plays.
In short, I’m choosing to be optimistic about what I saw against Maryland and heading into competition week. Receiving and running backs seemed to be in good shape, and the team took advantage of Stroud’s fluidity and the defense got big when needed. Buckeye Nation, let’s ride!