Ray Stein’s observations about Saturday's game:
The game at hand
• Short-attention-span synopsis: Piece of cake — a chewy, really hard-to-swallow cake. Is this what 10-1 is supposed to feel like? OSU looks like a turkey, Michigan like it’s holding the knife. Haskins: happy homecoming. Dobbins: digs deep. Defense: about as effective as a paper towel trying to stop a bus.
• Pregame buzz: All season, big plays were to the Ohio State defense what slithery reptiles were to incompetent amateur snake-handlers: red to yellow, kill a fellow. The Buckeyes suffered all sorts of nasty bites, at least until meeting fang-free Michigan State last week: red to black, venom lack. Against Maryland, OSU learned that turtles can leave a mark, too.
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• Worth the trip? Washington is a truly great American city, unless you have to actually drive a car around town, but it still doesn’t feel like Big Ten country. Familiarity will help in that quest, and Maryland offers a fine venue — a 54,000-seat stadium without the hassle of having to squeeze in next to other patrons. So the ample number of Buckeyes fans on hand could spread out — or pass out, considering how the game went.
• Spread the wealth? The opening line — OSU favored by 16 points — shrank precipitously as kickoff approached, all the way down to 13½. That’s a sign that Vegas is wising up to the Buckeyes, all hat and no cattle. It became apparent early that the smart money was on a Maryland cover — and that the really smart play was the over.
• This week in vanity plates: OK 2 XHAL
• How the team sees it: Survive and advance, and W is the only letter that matters. So you’re saying there’s a chance?!
• How the playoff committee will see it: We never say never around here, so it’s possible you could snag an invite. But don't book any flights yet.
• How Buckeye Nation sees it: Xichigan week is finally here. It’s also a week to give thanks. Is it possible for them to co-exist?
• What he said: “We’ll have to play better than we did on defense (against Michigan) or we won’t win the game.”
• What it means: “My next volume of ‘Understatement by Urban’ will include this discovery: Lemons are sour.”
They said it
• Your turn/the channel: It was not a good day for Ohio State football fans to be planted in front of a television set, even a 65-inch QLED model. The obvious issue was the product on the field, in which the Buckeyes were as messy as a busted sewer pipe. Making matters worse for many fans was the insistence of extreme close-ups of self-appointed OSU fanatics with painted faces, a group that apparently should be neither seen nor heard. And then there was Urban Meyer himself, whose bouts of tantrum called to mind — gulp — one Jim Harbaugh.
Numbers for dummies
39: Average margin of victory in Ohio State’s previous four victories over Maryland
55.4: Average point total for OSU against Maryland
55: Games since Ohio State allowed an opposing player to rush for 200-plus yards
7: Carries it took Maryland’s Anthony McFarland to top 200 yards (he finished with 298)
4: Games with 400-plus yards passing for OSU’s Dwayne Haskins Jr. (he finished with 405)
30-0: Ohio State’s record under Urban Meyer in games starting at noon or just after
12:06: Kickoff time, approximately, for next week’s game against Michigan
It’s about that pit of despair that has been gnawing in the gut of Buckeye Nation at times — many times, it must be said — throughout this bizarre Ohio State season. Yeah, that one — it’s about to finally come to a head against Michigan in six days at Ohio Stadium. Even though the Buckeyes have enjoyed a historic run against the Wolverines, somehow the dread feels palpable enough to conjure the darkest days of the Cooper administration. Can this town handle the stress?
Best responses to the game on Twitter:
@bearphoot: I hope they have a padded room to put Urban Meyer in after this game.
@bentley72: This game is going to trigger my Apple Watch breath function
@girlincle: This is so bad that for a second, I considered flipping to Lifetime for a minute. It’s that bad.
@BobBobr53: I’m just gonna pretend it was another bye week. It never happened.
@Raymirez24: To be this bad stopping the run would be to completely do nothing in practice
@adviceFB2: I hope the #buckeyes lose this game and get destroyed next week so we can get rid of this toxic coaching staff … time to blow this up and start over
@DonnyBee: This game is getting people fired.
@BrewdoodCMH: There’s still enough time left to impress the College Football Playoff committee. Next year.
@DaveMurphy0121: If Harbaugh can’t beat this Buckeye defense then he’s never going to beat them.
@althea_4017: List of things to do next Saturday @ noon. 1. Punch myself repeatedly in the groin. 2. Bang my head against the wall. 3. Go Xmas shopping. 999. Watch @OSU vs TTUN!
If a tame turtle
Can inflict such pain, what’s a