Just like Michigan No. 3 earlier Saturday, Ohio State No. 2 survived a major scare.
The Buckeyes found themselves in a street dogfight against the unranked Maryland but pulled it off with a 43-30 win at College Park. CJ Stroud threw for 241 yards and a touchdown for the win, but freshman running back Dallan Hayden stole the show.
After Miyan Williams was out and TreVeyon Henderson slammed, Hayden rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns to win.
With the win, Ohio State improved to 11-0 on the year and set up an undefeated showdown with Michigan the next weekend in Columbus. The Big Ten East will be at stake in a game that will also have massive implications for the College Football Playoffs.
But in the game it took to set up this unbeaten clash, Ohio State actually found themselves trailing 13-10 at halftime.
The Buckeyes quickly turned that around to open the second half. Lathan Ransom flew in and blocked a Maryland punt to set up Hayden’s first touchdown run of the game and give the Buckeyes a 17-13 lead.
And by the time the third quarter ended, Ohio State’s lead had increased to 27-13. But Maryland struggled on as Taulia Tagovailoa made a series of highlight role throws.
The two teams traded early on the fourth touchdown, with Maryland cutting the lead to 27-21 before Ohio State quickly built it back up to 33-21. However, that extra point attempt by OSU was blocked by Maryland and returned the other way to score two points to level Ohio State’s 33-23 lead.
And on the drive that followed, Tagovailoa made several excellent shots, including a touchdown connection for the fourth and a goal with Jeshaun Jones to cut OSU’s 9:49 lead to 33:30.
Maryland soon got the ball back by scoring a fourth and a near-midfield stop with 6:20 to go. Suddenly, the Terps were in an excellent position to level the game or even take the lead.
Instead, the Buckeyes’ defense forced a three-and-out clutch, and the offense was subsequently able to use up a significant chunk of the remaining clock with a field-goal drive.
That gave Maryland one last chance at 36-30, but Tagovailoa was sacked and the ball ripped loose, allowing OSU to tie the win with a defensive touchdown for good.
What does this mean for the state of Ohio?
The game we’ve all been waiting for is now a week away.
The Buckeyes have been waiting for revenge for a year. Last year, Michigan toppled the state of Ohio from its Big Ten throne and destroyed the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor.
The Big Ten title and a CFP berth were at stake in this case. The stakes will be the same this time.
Whoever wins will be a huge favorite in the Big Ten’s title game, no matter who ultimately emerges from the West. The loser will be 11-1 just hoping for some other contenders to lose, opening a door to potentially slipping into the No. 4 College Football Playoffs.