COLLEGE PARK, Md. – C.J. Stroud and Ohio State have waited a year for this.
Now it's time to face Michigan — and after more struggles than usual this weekend, the Buckeyes and Wolverines will indeed be undefeated when they meet next weekend.
Dallan Hayden scored three touchdowns in the second half of No. 2 Ohio State’s 43-30 victory over Maryland on Saturday. The Buckeyes and No. 3 Michigan cleared their final hurdles, and now Ohio State will try to avenge last season's loss to the Wolverines — its first in the series in a decade.
“We've been licking our wounds for 365 days, hearing all the laughing, everything that everybody's been saying,” said Stroud, Ohio State's star quarterback. “I definitely think that we've been preparing for it, not only on the field but in the weight room as well.”
Just before Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten, No. 2 CFP) and Maryland (6-5, 3-5) kicked off, Michigan edged Illinois on a late field goal. The Buckeyes then had plenty of problems of their own against the Terrapins. Ohio State trailed 13-10 at halftime, and the Buckeyes were up just 33-30 when they turned the ball over on downs at the Maryland 42 with 6:36 remaining in the game.
Ohio State forced a three-and-out, however, and then the Buckeyes ran out most of the remaining time. Noah Ruggles kicked a 45-yard field goal with 42 seconds left, and Steele Chambers added a defensive touchdown with 9 seconds to play.
“We’re never satisfied with a loss, obviously, but what you saw today is us go blow for blow with a team I consider to be one of the best in the country,” Maryland coach Michael Locksley said.
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, whose fumble Chambers scored on, was injured on that play and walked off very slowly.
Hayden finished with 146 yards on 27 carries.
TreVeyon Henderson returned after missing Ohio State's previous two games while injured. He caught an early 31-yard touchdown pass from Stroud but managed only 19 yards on 11 carries.
“It got to the point where we just decided we weren't going to put him in anymore,” coach Ryan Day said.
Day said Henderson had a great week of practice, and the team will keep evaluating him. Day is hopeful running back Miyan Williams will be back next week after leaving last weekend's game with a leg injury.
Tagovailoa completed his first 11 passes, and although the Terps settled for a couple field goals in the red zone early on, they went ahead 13-10 on a 1-yard TD catch by CJ Dippre with 3:52 left in the half.
This was a far cry from the previous two Ohio State-Maryland meetings, which the Buckeyes won 73-14 and 66-17 — although it wasn’t quite as harrowing for them as their 52-51 overtime win over the Terps in 2018. That game also came the week before they faced Michigan.
A blocked punt set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Hayden and gave the Buckeyes a 17-13 advantage in the third.
“I love the way we competed tonight, even though it wasn’t pretty,” Stroud said. “I don’t think a lot of games today were pretty.”
Hayden's second touchdown made it 27-13, but Maryland answered with Tagovailoa's 5-yard scoring run, plus a 2-point conversion. After another TD run by Hayden, Jakorian Bennett returned a blocked extra point all the way for two points, making the score 33-23.
Tagovailoa threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeshaun Jones to trim the lead to three with 9:49 to go.
Ohio State: This was the second-most points allowed by the Buckeyes this season, surpassed only in their 44-31 win over Penn State, but Ohio State escaped on the road and showed it has enough depth at running back no matter how healthy Henderson is next weekend.
Maryland: The Terps' improvement this year might not be reflected in their final record. They played Michigan tough in a 34-27 loss in September and were within a field goal of Ohio State with a minute remaining. It's their two losses prior to this one — to Wisconsin and Penn State by a combined 53-10 — that will leave a sour taste.
Tagovailoa become Maryland's career leader with 7,316 yards passing. He passed Scott Milanovich (7,301) to take over the top spot.
He didn't sound too concerned about his late injury.
“My knee is good,” he said. “Obviously, it’s been bothering me the whole season but I think it just hit the ground real hard. I think it’s just a bad bruise.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Michigan next Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Big Ten title game.
Maryland: The Terrapins host Rutgers to end the regular season.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister