Ohio State kept its Big Ten football championship hopes alive by the slimmest of margins Saturday.
The Buckeyes needed overtime to beat Maryland 52-51, setting up a game for the Big Ten East title and a berth in the Big Ten championship game when Michigan visits next Saturday.
Coach Urban Meyer’s team has a lot to fix before it will be ready for the Wolverines.
Here are five things to know about the win over the Terrapins:
1. The Buckeyes tied the game three times in the fourth quarter.
The last came when Dwayne Haskins connected with Binjimin Victor from three yards out with :40 left. Blake Haubeil’s PAT kick knotted the score at 45.
Ohio State also tied the game at 31 on a 6-yard pass from Haskins to K.J. Hill and at 38 on a 1-yard run by Haskins in the fourth quarter, but the defense gave up touchdowns after each of those scores to put the Buckeyes in a hole again.
“I never lose the faith,” Haskins told reporters after the game. “I know God, it’s always His plan. Whether we win or lose we’ve got to remain strong as a group and as a team.”
2. Haskins ran for three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
Much has been made of how Ohio State has had to operate Meyer’s offense without a run threat at quarterback this season, but that was not the case Saturday.
Haskins kept the ball on the zone read a handful of times, including the game-winning 5-yard touchdown run in overtime.
He also looked to scramble more than usual and ended the day with 59 yards on 15 carries (including one sack that lost four yards).
“Probalby just that competition,” Haskins said when asked about why he ran more. “Being back home, having those guys talk a little smack to me. I can run. I guess today was just the first day I wanted to show I could.”
Haskins entered the game with 34 yards and a touchdown on 41 carries (including sacks).
3. Of course the Ohio State quarterback continued to do damage with his arm.
Playing in front of a large group of friends and family in the state where played high school football, Haskins completed 28 of 38 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Along the way, Haskins broke J.T. Barrett’s school record of 35 touchdown passes in a season, finishing with 36, and surpasses Joe Germaine’s single-season school record for passing yards (3,330).
He had a pair of receivers go over 100 yards on the day as Johnnie Dixon caught six passes for 102 yards and Terry McLaurin caught four passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
“Just being able to play in front of my family and friends and of course people I grew up with and played against in high school, we were in the same class together and all that, it just meant a lot to me to go out there and play today,” Haskins said.
4. The Buckeyes needed all those yards and points because the defense was ripped to shreds.
Maryland’s Anthony McFarland ran for touchdowns of 81 and 75 yards in the first quarter en route to a 298-yard day. He averaged 14.2 yards per carry and might have done even more damage if not for missing part of the second half with an apparent shoulder injury.
He returned to set up Maryland’s overtime touchdown with a 24-yard run. Tayon Fleet-Davis scored on the next play, and interim Maryland coach Matt Canada opted to try to win the game then and there with a 2-point conversion attempt.
That failed when quarterback Tyrrell Prigrome’s pass into the end zone was incomplete, sending the Buckeyes to victory instead.
That was one of few wins on the day for the Ohio State defense, which returned to the bad old days after a feel-good performance at Michigan State last week.
Maryland had 535 total yards and averaged 8.6 yards per play, the most of any Buckeye opponent ever, and the Terrapins’ 7.1 yards per rush have been bettered only four times against Ohio State.
“Alarming is the right word, but we won,” Meyer said. “Let’s go back to work.”
5. J.K. Dobbins had a career day.
With Mike Weber sidelined by a quad bruise, the running load was left to Dobbins.
The sophomore from Texas responded with career highs of 203 yards on 37 carries.
“Without Mike, we just rode him against a top 20 defense,” Meyer said.
Dobbins ran for a touchdown run but lost a fumble inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter when Ohio State was looking to tie the game. That was one of three Ohio State turnovers on the day.
Maryland fumbled four times but only lost one. The last one was recovered in the end zone on third down for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:41 remaining, just another part of a wild game.