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Ten Things We Learned From Ohio State's 62-3 Win at Maryland
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — What can you learn from a 62-3 win over a team that was clearly overmatched, outgunned, and dismantled for four quarters? Enough, if you're paying attention. What can you learn from a second-straight 62-3 win for the Buckeyes? Probably that if you don't learn from history you are doomed to repeat it, and it looks like Maryland didn't learn.

But what did we learn? Let's take a look.

1. Ohio State has the best player in the Big Ten.
I just don't know if that's Curtis Samuel or J.T. Barrett. Barrett is the best quarterback and his control of the offense makes him the most difficult player to defend. However, Samuel is the most versatile player in the Big Ten and the most difficult individual matchup. At least against Barrett you have a defense that you can gear towards stopping him. With Samuel, you're trying to avoid the very matchup that Ohio State is trying to drop on you. This is a tough question. Who is the best player in the B1G? Do you go with Samuel, who can run inside or outside as well as he can run a deep route against press coverage or run a long drag route through a zone and score from anywhere? Or do you go with Barrett who makes the correct decision the vast majority of the time, moves the ball will efficiency, can escape pressure, is completely calm despite being ensconced in havoc, and is the kind of leader that coaches would gladly toss a graduate assistant into a volcano for? I don't know. I do know that there's nobody better in the conference than either of these guys.

2. Freshman linebacker Keandre Jones has all of the makings of a future star.
Keandre Jones is listed at 6-foot-2 and he's probably 225 pounds right now and he's still growing, but he's already got all of the burst and speed you could ever want in a linebacker. He came in when Joe Burger went down with a shoulder injury and was in the backfield a few times. His ability to close ground is Shazier-like. He plays bigger than his frame, which is going to continue to fill out. He appears to be the No. 3 Will linebacker right now, but is that position too full next year with Jerome Baker there? Could Jones be Raekwon McMillan's replacement next season after McMillan leaves early for the NFL? Jones and Jerome Baker on the field together could be as fast and athletic a tandem as there is in the country. Or will Jones be next year's version of Baker -- somebody who is there to compete with the other linebackers and then step in seamlessly should something happen.

3. And don't forget about the other defensive freshmen.
Defensive end Jonathon Cooper showed tremendous speed and athleticism against Maryland. On one play he came crashing in towards the cornerback only to have to backtrack because of a running play to his side, so he chased the ball down and stopped it for no gain on the sideline. A few plays later he did the same thing again. He can cover a lot of ground for a defensive lineman. There's also fellow defensive end Nick Bosa, who has gone a little quiet of late, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Linebacker Malik Harrison also got some good minutes against the Terps at walk-out linebacker. Physically, he looks like Joshua Perry as a young player. If he can maintain that same kind of athleticism as he grows, then the Buckeyes will again have a good one.

4. There are still plenty of new tricks in this not-so-old dog.
Last week against Nebraska we saw the Buckeyes go under center for a jet sweep with Curtis Samuel, which gained 16 yards. Against Maryland the Buckeyes went under center again, and again ran that jet sweep with Samuel for a nice gain. They also ran a play-action off of it and found Noah Brown for 22 yards on a corner route that was easily open. They also ran a rollout off of it which could lead to even more. There is more to come with this alignment because it immediately puts the defense in an altered state because it's not really what they have prepared for. Yes, they'll prepare for it, but who knows what Ohio State will be doing off of it. And even if they only run jet sweeps out of it, I think they're averaging 16 yards per carry when they do it. It might have been best to save it all for Michigan, but they needed to find more ways to move the ball, and this is certainly one of them.

5. The split back sets are a golden goose.
For my money, when the Buckeyes go with split backs and have Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber in the backfield together, that's the running game that I can dig. The play can go to either side and it can be either back running it inside or being the pitch man on a triple option. The most effective use of it, however, is as a sweep for Samuel with Weber as a lead blocker. This is where big yards come from with the receivers and tight ends blocking downfield. It's also incredibly effective in short yardage. I almost feel like they can't use this too much, but maybe its limited usage is what makes it so effective.

6. The secondary and defensive line are in perfect step.
A great pass defense starts up front and trickles backward. Ohio State has the No. 1 pass efficiency defense in the nation and it starts with the pressure from the defensive line. But this is also one of those instances where the secondary makes the defensive line effective because of how well they cover. Now with Gareon Conley playing nickel, the defensive line becomes even more effective -- and that's already with four defensive ends playing together in the Rushmen package on passing downs.

7. The offense is not only hitting their stride right now, but they're doing it with balance.
The Buckeyes have put up 590 and 581 yards of total offense the last two weeks, which is the best two-week total for Ohio State since games three and four of the 2014 season. In the past when the Buckeye offense was dominating it has generally been because the running game is dominating and the passing game is doing what it needs to. Now, however, the Buckeye passing game is leading the way. OSU is rushing for 245 yards per game the last two weeks and throwing for 340 yards. Defenses go into games against Ohio State geared up to stop the run, so when the Buckeyes come out of the gates throwing the ball, it can put a defense on its heels. Then when they begin to counter the passing game, there is always the three-headed rushing attack of Weber, Samuel, and Barrett.

8. This was the linebackers' best game.
I don't know if this is actually true since I'm not privy to the actual grades, but Chris Worley started this game by blowing up a wide receiver screen and from that moment Maryland knew that this wasn't Michigan's defense they were facing. Jerome Baker was also active on the blitz and was loud again after being quiet for a couple of weeks. Raekwon McMillan led the team with 10 tackles and a pair of tackles for loss. After weeks of McMillan explaining to reporters that the life of a middle linebacker in this defense is more than just tackles, it had to feel good for him to be as involved as he was in bringing the football to a screeching halt. All three were as present against the run as they were the pass. It was a complete performance.

9. The Buckeyes are rested.
Ohio State is entering the two games that were thought to be the defining points of their season. Michigan State has kind of screwed that up, but the importance has not diminished at all. With those two games coming up, the fact that the Buckeye starters have not seen the fourth quarter in the past two weeks means that they essentially have a half-game's rest under them over the past two games. They are fresher clear across the board, and for a team that had a bye week early in the season that's a huge advantage.

10. And they appear ready.
This is the best Ohio State has played all season, and they've played pretty well at times before this. These are complete performances of late right now. Try to rank the units in order of performance and you're going to have a hell of a time deciding who is playing best, worst, etc, etc, etc. What's the weak spot of the offense right now? The passing game? The Buckeyes are throwing for 340 yards per game in November. This is the first time since those aforementioned games three and four in 2014 (Kent State, Cincinnati) that the Buckeyes have thrown for at least 320 yards in back-to-back games. What's the weak spot on the defense? It can't be the pass defense because there is nobody better in the nation in defending the pass. Is it the rush defense? They are No. 10 in the nation in rush defense. Is that a weakness? The fact that there are so many strengths and so few weaknesses is exactly what a team wants to have in November -- and possibly December, and that's what the Buckeyes are happily dealing with right now.

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