College Park, Md. — Relentlessly zipping up and down the field, ninth-ranked Ohio State and upstart Maryland were racking up yards and points at a dizzying pace.
Finally, the Terrapins were presented with the chance to end it — one way or another.
A gutsy decision by Maryland interim coach Matt Canada did not achieve the desired results, and the Buckeyes avoided one of the most stunning upsets in this college football season by squeezing out a 52-51 victory in overtime on Saturday.
After a 5-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Haskins gave the Buckeyes a seven-point lead to start overtime, Tayon Fleet-Davis scored for the Terrapins. Canada opted to keep his offense on the field to attempt a 2-point conversion, and Tyrrell Pigrome’s pass to Jeshaun Jones was off target .
“It was a gut call,” Canada said. “I felt like they were scoring, we were scoring. We had the ball, we had to make one play to win. Obviously it didn’t work. I wasn’t trying to be aggressive. I was just trying to win.”
After watching his defense allow 535 yards and seven touchdowns, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer understood why Canada opted to win it right there.
“I would have probably done the same thing if I was their coach, the way they were gaining yards on us,” Meyer said. “I’m relieved we won.”
Favored by 14½ points, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) trailed by two touchdowns in the third quarter and 45-38 with under two minutes left before rallying.
The victory kept the Buckeyes in the hunt for the Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State concludes the regular season next week in a game against Michigan that will decide the Big Ten East winner.
After describing the performance of his defense as “alarming,” Meyer said, “But we won. Let’s go back to work and get ready for next week.”
The Buckeyes never led until overtime against the gritty Terrapins (5-6, 3-5), who have made the most of a season dedicated to teammate Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June. The players teamed together under the guidance of Canada, who maintained his role of offensive coordinator after taking over for head coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave in August, reinstated on Oct. 30 and fired on Oct. 31.
On this day, the Terps traded blows with one of the best teams in the nation, and stuck in it to the end.
“I wish we had been a little bit better on the last play,” Canada said. “It’s a tough day. We put a lot into this.”
Pigrome was making his first start of the season after Kasim Hill sustained a season-ending knee injury last week. He went 6-for-13 for 181 yards.
Haskins ran for three touchdowns and was 28 for 38 for 405 yards and three TDs. Ohio State finished with a whopping 688 yards, including 203 on the ground by J.K. Dobbins.
All that offense meant nothing until Pigrome’s pass went about six inches wide of his intended target.
“For us to stop them on a 2-point conversion, a whole bunch of emotions just came out of me,” Haskins said. “All that grit, all that adversity we faced in this game, to come back on top just meant everything for myself and my teammates.”
Maryland freshman Anthony McFarland had touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards in the first quarter and finished with 298 yards rushing — seven short of the school’s single-game record.
The Terps took a 45-38 lead when Chigoziem Okonkwo recovered a fumble by McFarland in the end zone with 1:41 left. Haskins then orchestrated a 50-yard, beat-the-clock drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victory with 40 seconds remaining.
It goes without saying that the Buckeyes must play much, much better next week to beat Michigan. The offense had no trouble moving the ball, but three turnovers proved costly. The defense, needless to say, was awful.
Despite putting forth a great effort against a Top-10 team on Senior Day, the Terrapins still can’t seem to get the offense and defense working in sync. Last week, four turnovers were too much to overcome in a loss to Indiana. In this game, the defense couldn’t back a strong outing by a big-play offense.
The Terrapins had scored on all 25 trips to the red zone this season, and Maryland freshman Joseph Petrino was the only kicker in the nation without a miss on a field-goal try (10 for 10) before both streaks ended in the second quarter. After reaching the Ohio State 18, the Terrapins lost ground before Petrino misfired on a 49-yard attempt.
The stakes couldn’t be much bigger when the Buckeyes look to beat Michigan for a seventh straight time next week.
With one last chance to become bowl eligible, the Terrapins travel to Penn State next Saturday.
More Big Ten
No. 24 Northwestern 24, (at) Minnesota 14: Isaiah Bowser rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 24 Northwestern turned three turnovers by Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan into 10 points, stretching its program-record road winning streak to eight games.
Clayton Thorson completed 15 of 21 passes for 230 yards without a turnover and had a 13-yard touchdown run in the first half for the Wildcats (7-4, 7-1, No. 22 CFP), who have their best Big Ten record since 1996 when coach Pat Fitzgerald was in his final season as a player.
Nate Hall had two interceptions for the Wildcats, who have won 14 of their last 15 conference contests, including 11 in a row against opponents within the West Division they clinched the week before. Hall, who also made the tackle on a fourth-and-1 stop of Seth Green at the Northwestern 26 in the second quarter, was ejected for targeting on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Morgan in the fourth quarter.
“A very businesslike championship-type approach to the week culminated with a very businesslike win,” Fitzgerald said. “I thought our guys were very focused.”
Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown and Blake Cashman had a sack among his career-high 20 tackles for the Gophers (5-6, 2-6), who fell to 4-13 in conference play under coach P.J. Fleck.
With a kickoff temperature of 23 degrees, which was actually slightly warmer than when Minnesota beat Purdue here last week, Thorson and the Wildcats played the field-position game well. The secondary, missing three injured starters, complemented a strong pass rush led by Joe Gaziano, who forced a fumble by Morgan with a sack in the fourth quarter, setting up a short field goal.
That came right after a 68-yard completion on third down from Thorson to J.J. Jefferson, who slipped past freshman safety Jordan Howden and was tackled at the 2 before Bowser’s second score.
Morgan finished 19 for 32 for 197 yards and a late touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson, who topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Minnesota’s streak of four straight games with 400-plus total yards, the longest for the program in more than 12 years, was stopped.
“They’re an incredibly talented football team,” Morgan said. “They play tough. They don’t make mistakes.”
No. 16 Penn State 20, (at) Rutgers 7: Trace McSorley threw two touchdown passes to tight end Pat Freiermuth and No. 16 Penn State’s defense set up two touchdowns with turnovers, sending the Scarlet Knights to their 10th straight loss.
McSorley’s touchdown passes covered 6 yards in the second quarter and 18 in the fourth as the Nittany Lions (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten, No. 14 CFP) beat Rutgers (1-10, 0-7) for the 12th straight time. Jake Pinegar added field goals of 22 and 19 yards.
The win was No. 30 for McSorley as a starter, making him the winningest quarterback in school history. The senior had been tied with Todd Blackledge (1980-82) and Tony Sacca (1988-91). The two touchdowns increased his total — running and passing — to 101.
Raheem Blacksheer scored on a 2-yard fourth-quarter run for Rutgers to deny Penn State its first shutout in more than a season.
The dominant group for Penn State was its defense, which forced three turnovers, had four sacks and 11 tackles for losses and held Rutgers to 46 yards passing.
Safety Garrett Taylor intercepted a horrible pass by freshman Art Sitkowski late in the second quarter to give the Nittany Lions the ball at the Rutgers 28. Four plays later, McSorley (17 of 37 for 183 yards) found Freiermuth for a 10-3 lead with 2:04 left in the half.
Senior Gio Rescigno replaced Sitkowski (3 of 7 for 18 yards and two interceptions) after the bad decision on the screen pass Penn State read from the start.
A Daniel Joseph recovery of an Isaih Pacheco fumble at the Rutgers 46 late in the third quarter set up the second TD pass early in the fourth for a 20-0 lead.
The Scarlet Knights should have scored in the third quarter. After moving 82 yards on 14 running plays, they ran a fourth-down flea flicker from the 2-yard line and a wide-open Rescigno dropped a soft pass from Trey Sneed, who had lined up outside and took a toss from Blackshear.
Iowa 63, (at) Illinois 0: Nate Stanley passed for 178 yards and three touchdowns while Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young added two rushing touchdowns each as Iowa rolled over Illinois. It tied the largest margin of defeat in Illinois history, matching a 63-0 loss to the University of Chicago in 1906.
The win ended a three-game skid for the Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) and makes a bowl invitation all but certain.
The loss ended Illinois’ bowl hopes.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw an interception on the second play of the game and the Hawkeyes punted on the next series. But the floodgates soon opened: Over the next 18 minutes, Iowa scored five times.
“A lot of man coverage today, a lot of zone a week ago,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “A lot of that stuff is just how things shake out, but again, we’re going to be a better team any time we get our better guys involved.”
The Hawkeyes led 35-0 at the half.
“We didn’t play well in any phase,” said Illinois coach Lovie Smith. “Starting with coaching, we thought we had the team prepared. We weren’t. They outperformed us in every way.”
Stanley was 13-of-21 through the air for three touchdowns and one interception. His touchdown passes went to tight end Noah Fant (who played sparingly last week much to the chagrin of many Iowa fans) and T.J. Hockenson.
Sargent carried 17 times for 121 yards, while Young rushed for 67 yards on 14 carries. Kyle Groeneweg returned a punt for a touchdown following Illinois’s first series of the second half.
Wisconsin 47, Purdue 44, 3 OT: Jonathan Taylor rushed for a career-high 321 yards and scored three times including the decisive 17-yard run in triple overtime to give Wisconsin a come-from-behind victory.
Taylor’s 33 carries matched his career high from earlier this season and helped the Badgers (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season.
Wisconsin has won 13 straight in the series dating to 2004.
Fifth-year senior David Blough threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns in his final game at Ross-Ade Stadium but came up short of leading the Boilermakers (5-6, 4-4) to a bowl-clinching victory. Freshman Rondale Moore had nine catches for 114 yards and two scores — wiggling his way through four Badgers defenders on a 15-yard TD catch in the first overtime.
Purdue appeared to be headed toward its crucial sixth win after Markell Jones bounced off a defender and scored on a 12-yard run and Moore caught a pass on the move, made a nifty move at full speed and scored on the 46-yard play to make it 24-13 with less than a minute to go in the third.
Spencer Evans’ 20-yard field goal gave Purdue a 27-13 lead early in the fourth.
But the Badgers charged back.
Danny Davis made a spectacular one-handed, 5-yard grab near the sideline to cut the deficit to 27-20. He tied it with an 18-yard TD catch with 2:51 left in regulation.
Taylor then matched Moore’s score with a 12-yard TD run. And after the teams traded scores in the second overtime, Purdue made a 41-yard field goal in the third overtime to take a 44-41 lead.
Taylor scored two plays later to win it.
The Badgers got their first win in three tries without injured quarterback Alex Hornibrook and though it won’t save their playoff hopes or Big Ten title aspirations, it should give the Badgers a shot at a better bowl game.
The Boilermakers let this one slip away and it could prove costly as they’ll have to win their regular-season finale on the road to extend coach Jeff Brohm’s streak of making a bowl game in every season he’s been a head coach.