Ohio State on Saturday dominated the Terrapins en route to a 73-14 win, yet another embarrassing loss for Maryland, which lost any hope of bowl eligibility. The Terps have not looked competitive against most Big Ten teams they’ve played in their first year under Coach Michael Locksley. Saturday’s loss in Columbus marked Maryland’s fifth conference defeat by at least 25 points.
On both sides of the ball, Maryland couldn’t match Ohio State’s size and skill up front, even though the Buckeyes had to play without star defensive end Chase Young. Ohio State still recorded seven sacks and only allowed 139 total yards of offense.
Ohio State sliced through Maryland’s secondary, which routinely left receivers uncovered. The Buckeyes’ offense converted nine of 14 third-down attempts and plowed through Maryland for a season-high 705 yards of offense.
Similar to the Penn State loss, Maryland’s game against Ohio State reminded this program and its fan base of how far the Terps still have to climb in the Big Ten. In hiring Locksley, Maryland hopes to start making progress by reeling talented high school players into the program. But that, too, appears to be a struggle: one of the Washington-area players set to join Maryland next year, announced his decommitment on Twitter at halftime, when the Terps trailed 42-0 (more on that below).
An unwelcome streak extended
For the fifth straight game, Maryland gave up a touchdown on at least two straight possessions to start the game. Against Ohio State, the Terps did more than extend this undesirable streak; they hit a new low, allowing scores on six straight possessions to open the day.
After jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Buckeyes executed an impressive onside kick that landed directly in the hands of sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave.
Three minutes later, quarterback Justin Fields and Co. scored again for a 21-0 lead. Olave grabbed a touchdown pass on the next series with a play that epitomized Maryland’s defensive struggles. Fields had plenty of time to make a decision and then found Olave wide open in the end zone.
Late in the second quarter, Maryland stopped Ohio State on third down when Fields threw an incomplete pass. But the Terps picked up two penalties on the play, offsides and pass interference, so the Buckeyes’ touchdown march continued. Two plays later, Ohio State scored its fifth touchdown of the day.
Fields threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the first half before backup Chris Chugunov took over the offense after halftime.
Ohio State’s scoring streak only ended when the Buckeyes took a knee to close the first half. After the break, Maryland had one of its only positive moments on defense when linebacker Keandre Jones, a transfer from Ohio State, pushed past the left tackle, sacked Chugunov and forced a fumble. Maryland’s Tyrrell Pigrome threw an interception on the next play.
The Buckeyes didn’t have to punt until late in the third quarter, when reserve players had taken the field and they led 52-0.
Throughout the game, the Terps relied on both Josh Jackson and Pigrome. Jackson earned the starting quarterback job during fall camp, but Pigrome filled in for three games while Jackson was hurt.
Jackson started against Ohio State, but he couldn’t sustain drives. Pigrome entered for a few series to close the first half. He had more success, finding a couple receivers for first-down completions, and Maryland had some solid runs when Pigrome in at quarterback. After halftime, however, Pigrome threw an interception. The following drive ended when Pigrome was sacked near the end zone and Jackson returned late in the third quarter.
Maryland’s first score of the day came on a 26-yard pass from Jackson to Dontay Demus Jr. On that third-quarter drive, the Terps pushed down the field thanks to three Ohio State penalties. Apart from Demus’s touchdown grab, Maryland’s offense didn’t have any plays that gained yardage on that series.
Against Ohio State backups, and Pigrome in at quarterback, running back Tayon Fleet-Davis scored on a 12-yard run after Javon Leake’s 70-yard kickoff return gave Maryland optimal field position.
The two quarterbacks combined for 77 passing yards against a formidable Ohio State defensive front. Jackson completed 4 of 9 for 35 yards, while Pigrome finished 4 of 8 for 42 yards.
No Young, no problem
Ohio State held Young, its defensive end and Heisman Trophy candidate, out of the game after the school announced Friday that it was investigating “a possible NCAA issue from 2018” that may affect his eligibility. Young wrote on Twitter that he accepted a loan from a family friend and he repaid the loan last summer.
Even without Young, the Buckeyes had no trouble disrupting Maryland’s offense, beginning with a sack on the second play of the game. Ohio State sacked Maryland’s quarterbacks seven times for a loss of 50 yards. Tyreke Smith and Davon Hamilton notched two apiece.
Maryland finished the game with 62 rushing yards and 77 receiving yards. The only time Maryland had more feeble offensive production was against Penn State in September.
No chance of a bowl
After Maryland lost on the road against Temple in the third game of the season, bowl eligibility suddenly slipped much further from the team’s grasp. Even though the Terps shined in their first two outings against Howard and Syracuse, a win over Temple just before the Big Ten slate seemed crucial to their bowl hopes.
Once Maryland couldn’t pick up wins in October against Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota, it became unlikely it would reach the six-win threshold. Even if Maryland wins its next two games against Nebraska and Michigan State, the team will only match last year’s 5-7 record.
Lost the game and a recruit
At halftime, offensive lineman Jordan White, a three-star recruit from DeMatha Catholic, announced he had decommitted from Maryland. In his post on Twitter, White wrote that he opted to reopen his recruitment because it was “the best decision for myself and my future.” It is not clear exactly when White made the decision, or whether he had previously notified Maryland’s staff.
The Terps lost another pledge, three-star cornerback Rashad Battle, earlier this week. Maryland now has 14 players committed in its 2020 class, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 50th in the nation.
DeMatha is a high school powerhouse located just three miles down the road from Maryland and has also produced Young, the Buckeyes’ best player. The Terps have numerous DeMatha players on their roster, including standout running back Anthony McFarland Jr., freshman safety Nick Cross and offensive linemen Austin Fontaine and Marcus Minor, who both started against Ohio State.
Locksley and his staff — which includes Elijah Brooks, who was DeMatha’s head coach before he was hired by Locksley to coach running backs — had hoped to attract talented players from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region. As the Terps have struggled, Locksley said this week his message to recruits hasn’t changed.
“We’re a program that’s in the developmental stages,” Locksley said. “As much as I would like to come in here and win the Big Ten East and win the Big Ten in year one, we’re setting roots for a long stay here.”