COLLLEGE PARK, Maryland — The first sellout crowd at College Park in nearly six years welcomed big, bad Ohio State for Maryland's first home game in the Big Ten.
Minutes into the first quarter, the 51,802 fans, at least those rooting for the home team, must've wondered what their great conference shift had wrought.
The Buckeyes had never played Maryland, but they marched up and down the field as if they owned the place. No. 20 Ohio State scored quickly and easily, while the Terrapins threw four interceptions and switched quarterbacks at halftime Saturday in a 52-24 loss.
"Our guys know now that here's the league that we're in," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "Between them and some of the other teams in our division, this is the standard-bearer."
The Terrapins (4-2, 1-1) had an impressive Big Ten debut win on the road the previous week against Indiana, but their top highlight Saturday was a school-record 57-yard field goal by Brad Craddock. The Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0) piled up 533 yards and scored on drives lasting 3:01, 3:27, 1:18, 1:46 and 0:05 to take a 31-10 halftime lead.
C.J. Brown started for Maryland despite leaving the Indiana victory with a sprained left wrist. He played the first half and was ineffective and often under pressure, completing 11 of 18 passes for 71 yards with three sacks.
Brown also threw a momentum-swinging interception deep in Terrapins territory late in the half. Maryland had scored its first touchdown on its previous possession to cut the deficit to 24-10, and the defense followed by forcing Ohio State's first punt. Brown's poor throw was picked off by Darron Lee, deflating the enthusiasm that was starting to build for the home team.
"We knew we needed a play," Brown said. "The whole defense walked out there and, after they had just stopped our offense, we had 'em pinned right there. It's like, 'Hey, let's force something right here,' and we did. The fact that we made a big play at a crucial point right after they had just stopped our offense was huge."
For the second half, Edsall turned to Caleb Rowe, who played well in relief against the Hoosiers. The coach said the move wasn't injury-related and that he was going with a traditional drop-back quarterback because he wanted to throw the ball more. Edsall said Brown made some poor decisions but added: "C.J.'s our quarterback."
The change mattered little to the outcome. The Buckeyes went back to work making the Terrapins look like, well, terrapins. An 80-yard drive needed only four plays to make it a four-touchdown lead.
Rowe finished 13 for 22 for 173 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, including one returned 19 yards by Raekwon McMillan for a Buckeyes score.
Despite the outcome, Edsall said there's not much of a gap between the schools.
"We're close," he said. "What we've got to do is just continue to build the program, we've got to get facilities, we've got to continue to recruit at the level that we've been recruiting at."
Nothing summed up the day better than the two coaches' attitudes about their impending byes. Ohio State's Urban Meyer wished his streaking Buckeyes didn't have next week off. Edsall is welcoming it with open arms.
"We're looking forward," Edsall said, "to taking a deep breath."
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