COLUMBUS — Ohio State didn’t need an off date.
The Buckeyes certainly didn’t want one, either.
But they had no vote in the matter once Maryland decided to shut down all team activities on Wednesday, cancelling the Big Ten East Division matchup scheduled for Saturday and removing one of the already-limited chances for the Buckeyes to put on the pads for a live game this season. Ohio State will practice instead this weekend in an effort to maintain its routine, but it’s not really in a mood to look for any silver linings about staying home.
“The hardest thing is looking a team in the eye after they’ve done everything you’ve asked them to do and telling them they can’t play,” Ohio State coach Day said on Thursday. “I feel awful for this team. But there’s nothing we can do about it.
“What we have to do is keep our routine. In a season that has been nothing like we’re used to, we need to keep our routine the best we can. … We don’t have a game plan ready to go for Indiana, but at least we’ll get a head start on that. We’ll have a good practice on Saturday and try to keep it as much routine as possible. When you keep changing routine on coaches and players and staff members, it wears you down. It’s a distraction. So, we’re going to try to everything we can to not do that and keep our routine the same.”
The latest disruption is a big one, and it deprives the Buckeyes of another opportunity to prove their College Football Playoff credentials as a four-touchdown favorite over Maryland. Ohio State was obviously unlikely to lose to the overmatched Terrapins, so Lettermen Row is going ahead with its own routine and making Five Bold Predictions about how that game would have looked on Saturday afternoon.
Austin Ward: Julian Fleming was ready for first Buckeyes TD
The path to the end zone was clear for Julian Fleming, and he knew it. But the freshman forgot to finish the catch first after Justin Fields hit him perfectly in stride, and he got a painful lesson about the importance of maintaining focus — one that should actually pay immediate dividends for a player with his work ethic and potential. Fleming isn’t likely to make that mistake again, and Fields won’t be shy about coming right back to the talented young target because it’s clear just how much the Pennsylvania product can help the Buckeyes this season and into the future. A chance to make up for that drop was coming this weekend, and Fleming was poised for his breakthrough score.
Birm: Buckeyes would have held Maryland under 150 yards
The Buckeyes first half defense would have shown up for the whole game on Saturday in College Park. The built-up energy and enthusiasm for Maryland football combined with the lack of respect for Ohio State’s defense after the struggling second half versus Rutgers makes the perfect storm for a hungry group of Silver Bullets seeking redemption. Call it anger, frustration — call it a chance to remind everyone who they are — but whatever it is, it was going to a bad day for Maryland. Ohio State will hold the Terrapins to less than 150 total yards of offense and get out of town feeling much better about themselves.
Tim May: Justin Fields would have five touchdowns for Ohio State
The stage was set. Saturday at Maryland: Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was going to step boldly forward from the line of other true candidates in this season’s Heisman Trophy race. While much of the pregame banter centered on rejuvenated Maryland and its offense led by Taulia Tagovailoa, left unsaid was the fact the Terps were going to need all the points they could muster. The Maryland defense was about to offer a target-rich environment for Fields, the most accurate passer of the major Heisman candidates, and his Garrett Wilson-Chris Olave led platoon of receivers. Fields was about to go over 1,200 yards passing in just 4 games, and probably pump his touchdown-pass number from 11 going in to 16 or more on the way out. TVs, radios and websites were going to be abuzz. Alas, Fields must bide his time in seclusion in his so far Covid 19-free apartment to wait for his next action in the Big Ten East showdown with Indiana next week.
Spencer Holbrook: Ohio State would put up 42 first-half points
For all that’s been made about the Maryland offense, the Terrapins have a terrible defense, one that gave up more than 40 points to both Minnesota and Northwestern. I’m viewing that defensive performance against Penn State as an outlier for the Terrapins. Justin Fields is the best player in college football, and his weapons are too much for Maryland to handle. It doesn’t really matter how many points the Buckeyes defense could give up to the Terps (it’s not that much, stop overreacting), but the Ohio State offense would have gone wild in the first half.
Will Crall: Shaun Wade was bouncing back with Ohio State pick
The Ohio State secondary was set to have their best game yet, starting with an outstanding performance from Shaun Wade. The Buckeyes defense has only had one interception through the first three games. However, I think Wade would have had a pick and shut down Maryland’s talented wide receivers, Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus Jr. The backend of the Ohio State defense has had a slow start, but they are too talented and have the best defensive backs coach in America in Kerry Coombs. It’s too bad we won’t see this one because Shaun Wade would have put BIA back on the map.