COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There’s still no quarterback controversy. Ohio State has just decided that position is a three-man job.
Cardale Jones remains the starter, and he delivered one of the most productive passing performances of his career. Braxton Miller continues to take a few snaps as a Wildcat option behind center, and he was efficient as a rusher.
But the newest wrinkle in the seemingly evolving, never-ending drama the Buckeyes have staged with their decorated quarterbacks is turning to J.T. Barrett to solve their red zone woes. All three roles worked perfectly for an offense that left little room to question what’s wrong with it on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes piled up yardage and points in a 49-28 win over Maryland to stay undefeated midway through the regular season.
The Ohio State defense, though, may have to take a turn facing some scrutiny after struggling to contain a Maryland attack that had scored only six combined points over the previous two games. The Buckeyes were hit early for a deep shot through the air, gashed for a 75-yard rush to set up another touchdown and again committed some costly penalties that will have Urban Meyer’s attention.
But the Ohio State coach won’t have to spend the next week defending his offense, which apparently has room for a talented trio of quarterbacks.
What the win means for Ohio State: The Buckeyes continue to allow heavy underdogs to hang around and make games competitive into the second half, but the only thing that truly matters hasn’t changed -- they haven’t lost. The schedule is obviously back-loaded with the toughest tests, leaving Meyer either room for error or time to tinker with adjustments depending on the perspective. But it doesn’t really make any difference at this point, since keeping a perfect record isn’t easy and is all that ultimately matters.
What the loss means for Maryland: Randy Edsall did all he could to help make the decision more difficult for the athletic department, delivering a spirited effort behind quarterback Perry Hills and pushing the defending national champions into the second half. But if the Terrapins have already made up their mind to move on, dropping another Big Ten game and falling to 2-4 heading into a bye week isn’t likely to change it regardless of the spark Edsall’s team showed for much of the afternoon.
Player of the game: The new rotation at quarterback wouldn’t work without everybody involved buying into the setup, starting at the top with Jones. The starting quarterback didn’t pout when he was removed in favor of Barrett in the red zone. He actually delivered one of the most complete outings of his career while the Buckeyes were rolling two other guys into the lineup to take snaps in his place at times. Jones completed 21 of 28 throws for 291 yards with a pair of touchdowns, adding 19 more on the ground to keep his personal record perfect in nine starts.
The game turned when: Tied with another opponent in the third quarter and facing a squad that appeared to be gaining confidence, Jones delivered what amounted to a knockout blow with a gorgeous 48-yard strike to Jalin Marshall on a play-action pass. Maryland wasn’t able to bounce back offensively; the Buckeyes scored again before the quarter was over and were never threatened again on the way to yet another conference victory for Meyer, who has still never lost a regular-season game to a Big Ten opponent.