Ohio State grade card: Hayden, special teams lead Buckeyes

A grade card on Ohio State’s 43-30 win over Maryland:

OFFENSE: C

Freshman running back Dallan Hayden (27 carries, 146 yards, 3 touchdowns) stepped up on a day when Miyan Williams couldn’t play and TreVeyon Henderson tried to play but appeared to have quickly aggravated an existing foot problem. It was the third 100-yard game of the season for Hayden but the first time he’d done it in a pressure situation.

The offensive line seemed to play better in the second half with Hayden on the field after OSU rushed for only 28 yards in the first half. Hayden got all but three of his yards in the second half and it wasn’t until he became the face of the Buckeyes’ running game that the offense became effective.

The offense went 75 yards in six plays for a touchdown the first time it had the ball and then didn’t score another touchdown until the first time it had the ball in the second half. It was not one of quarterback C.J. Stroud’s better days. He was 18 of 30 for 241 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State had 11 penalties, seven of them in the first half. Delay of game penalties after the play clock ran out continued to be an issue.

DEFENSE: C+

The only Big Ten teams Maryland scored more points against this season than the 30 points it had on Saturday were Indiana and Northwestern. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who passed for fewer than 100 yards against both Penn State and Wisconsin in Maryland’s last two games before Saturday, hit 16 of his first 18 passes and finished the day 26 of 36 for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Nine Maryland receivers caught at least one pass.

Tommy Eichenberg led Ohio State with 13 tackles. OSU had five sacks, including two by Zach Harrison on Maryland’s final possession to end any chance the Terrapins had of pulling off an upset.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Lathan Ransom blocked a punt for the second game in a row and this one might have been the turning point in the game. OSU struggled offensively in the first half and found itself behind 13-10. Ransom’s block seemed to energize both the offense and defense. Two plays after it, Hayden scored a touchdown for a 17-13 lead and the Buckeyes had the lead the rest of the game.

Noah Ruggles kicked three field goals, including a 47-yarder and a 46-yarder, and Xavier Johnson returned a kickoff 46 yards.

On the down side, OSU botched a two-point conversion and an extra-point kick on the same sequence. After going up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes lined up for a two-point try but were called for delay of game. After the penalty, they decided to kick instead and it was blocked and returned for two points by Maryland.

OVERALL: C+

Ohio State has been behind at some point in three of its four road games so maybe its struggles against Maryland shouldn’t have been a complete surprise. But a similar effort this Saturday against Michigan probably would not produce the result the Buckeyes have been looking for since last year.

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.