As they try to cement their position in this season's College Football Playoff, Ohio State couldn't have asked for a more favorable late-season schedule.
This week, they faced a Maryland Terrapins team that basically amounted to an early-season FCS cupcake. The results on the field showed it -- a 73-14 victory in which the game was effectively decided after the first quarter. During that first quarter, an Ohio State defense missing the services of defensive end Chase Young held the Terrapins to a single yard of offense, while the special teams attempted and recovered an onside kick while up two touchdowns.
This has to put a scare in Ohio State's next opponent, an even more hapless Big Ten school on their second head coach of the season - Rutgers.
For context, Ohio State's latest victims, Maryland, actually defeated Rutgers in Piscataway earlier this season, 48-7 -- the Terps' only win since September -- which should be an indicator of the level of competition the Buckeyes have next week.
There's no question that Ohio State will win. If they don't, it would be the most dramatic upset in college football history. The only question is by how much will the Buckeyes win?
The College Football Playoff provides ample incentive for teams to run up the score. After all, it may not be enough just to beat a lousy team, especially if you just barely squeak by them, or when a team just behind you in the rankings pulls off a more convincing win. When a team is faced with two consecutive cupcake matchups, the only way to impress the Playoff committee is to absolutely decimate those opponents by every means necessary.
Ohio State beat Maryland 73-14 despite benching Heisman-contending quarterback Justin Fields for the second half against Maryland - and the team still racked up 31 points after halftime. If they keep Fields on for all 60 minutes against an inferior Rutgers side, it's not out of the question that the Buckeyes could cross into triple digits - something no team has done in any level of college football since 2003, when Division III Rockford College beat Trinity Bible 105-0.
One caveat is that unlike the Maryland game, Ohio State will not play in front of their home fans. Actually, scratch that. They will play in front of some home fans in Piscataway - just not as much of them - but at this point in the season, hardly anyone at Rutgers cares to root on their alma mater on the gridiron. It wouldn't be too much of an upset if Ohio State fans outnumbered those of Rutgers. Even their homecoming game couldn't draw a crowd, which was just as well, considering they lost 42-7 to Minnesota.