Before turning his attention to Saturday’s showdown with No. 10 Ohio State, running back Ty Johnson reflected on Maryland football’s 31-24 win at Minnesota.

He didn’t focus on his 130-yard performance. Instead, the fleet-footed tailback watched film of Maryland’s offensive line bulldozing the Golden Gophers’ No. 1-ranked run defense. He was amazed at how the blockers pushed players three yards off the line of scrimmage, giving him space to display his speed.

The effort answered coach DJ Durkin’s call for improved blocking after a blowout loss to Central Florida the previous week.

“Our line has been willing to go out there and smack someone in the mouth,” Johnson said. “When you see them in practice and you see them on film, they’re just destroying guys.”

Johnson had little issue finding running lanes, but it took him almost the entire game to break the kind of dizzying sprint he’s made his specialty since arriving in College Park. He posted runs of 74, 50, 46 and 40 yards earlier in the year against Texas and Towson.

The Golden Gophers tripped him up before he reached the open field on a couple of potential touchdown runs through the first three quarters, but he stayed on his feet with the game tied at 24 and under two minutes remaining.

Offensive linemen Brendan Moore and Terrance Davis delivered strong blocks on the right side, and a Minnesota linebacker missed his gap assignment. Right away, Johnson knew he could reach the end zone, but he waited until crossing the goal line to celebrate his 34-yard score.

“There was nothing but green grass in front of me, so I was like, ‘All right, let’s go,'” Johnson said. “We needed that.”

As the offensive line bounced back from its disappointing performance against Central Florida, when Maryland accumulated just 42 rushing yards, Johnson returned to form. He was frustrated by his 2.3 yards per carry in the loss to the Knights and credited his teammates for paving his success.

The blocking effort extended to the passing game. After suffering five sacks against Central Florida, quarterback Max Bortenschlager avoided a takedown at Minnesota. He also didn’t turn the ball over after throwing two picks in his previous contest.

“We said going into the game that we had to win the line of scrimmage, and we did that,” Durkin said. “We ran the ball effectively.”

Ohio State’s defense will present a more daunting challenge to Maryland. The Buckeyes are stocked with four- and five-star recruits, and they’ve held opponents to 3.3 yards per carry.

Last season, Johnson carried eight times for 21 yards against Ohio State, marking one of his worst career outings. But after Maryland’s offensive line pushed around Minnesota’s front seven, the Terps are hopeful they can continue to move the ball on the ground.

“Our linemen,” Bortenschlager said, “they’re unbelievable.”