Saturday Maryland was just one bad pass on a two-point conversion away from pulling of one of the bigger upset of the season over top-10 ranked Ohio State. The fact Maryland was that close to beating the Buckeyes is remarkable in itself. Yet, there is a lot left to desire about interim coach Matt Canada’s decision to go for two in overtime — one he called a gut decision.
Matt Canada said going for two points in overtime was a gut decision and that he made the decision before Ohio State scored. He talked to quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome ahead of time. Canada had two play calls, and they both liked the one they went with.
— Emily Giambalvo (@EmilyGiam) November 17, 2018
Maryland going for two after hanging 51 points on the heavily-favored Buckeyes is understandable. It’s hard to argue. Maryland had scored 51 points and a two-point conversion with momentum dangled up for grabs was a gutsy call and one that almost has to be made all the time considering the Terrapins’ standpoint.
The tumultuous season the program has had, going for the win by going for a two-point conversion against Ohio State and failing is nothing compared to what’s been lost this year.
Canada opted for the two, and the call was perfect, just quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome missed the wide-opened Jeshaun Jones in the end zone.
Ohio State’s defense was reeling. They hadn’t shown much resistance to Maryland’s offense. Why not try the two-point conversion, at home?
Except the fact, Ohio State’s defense was reeling. And it had given up 51 points. Kicking the extra point gave Maryland another chance to win — yes to lose too — but more importantly to win. Over a course of a full drive, Ohio State hadn’t show much defense.
Maryland had scored touchdowns on three of its last four possessions. When Ohio State tied the game at 31-31, Maryland answered with a touchdown. When Ohio State tied the game again at 38-38, Maryland answered with a touchdown with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. And just as Ohio State scored on their possession during overtime, Maryland answered with a touchdown in two plays.
Kicking the extra point to tie the game at 52-52 would have sent the game into the second overtime instead . Maryland was to receive the football first. Considering their ease the first go around in overtime, not hard to think Maryland could have scored again from the 25-yard line. That score would have put immense pressure on the Buckeyes to score a touchdown at least to tie the game.
Ohio State wasn’t suppose to be in a dog fight this weekend, but they were. Putting pressure on them to score again could have been huge. Instead, Canada gambled the entire game on one play, and lost.
As a consequence, Maryland may have squandered the best opportunity to become bowl eligible this late in the season. It’s one that they’ll be proud of with the way they competed against a nationally-ranked Big Ten power. And considering the losses that have shaken the program this season, losing this way is far from a disappointment. It was a moral victory, but it may have been an actual win had they been given a chance.
All of this is predicated on making the extra point that could have been just as adventurous as the two-point conversion. And Canada shouldn’t necessarily be questioned harshly, besides he looked at it as a situation he and the program had nothing to lose. But, it still may have not been the right call.