May 30, 2024

McCord sat on the sidelines and watched as C.J. Stroud made things interesting in “The Game” against Michigan. He watched as the now Houston Texans’ star did his best to push forward but could never take down the Wolverines and claim a Big Ten title.

McCord might have inherited a two-game losing streak, but he’s ready to see that end like he’s ready to return to Indianapolis for a Saturday showdown at Lucas Oil Stadium against Iowa for a shot at the trophy and more.

And the version of McCord that started the season no longer exists. Now stands a polished passer ready to hand business on the road in Ann Arbor. That alone presents its own challenges when knowing the pressure on his shoulders heading into Michigan Stadium.

“Honestly, I think the biggest thing would just be that confidence level — having confidence in myself and my teammates around me,” McCord said following a 37-3 win over Minnesota in the Buckeyes’ home finale. “I think that was the biggest thing, going back and watching that film from Week 1 — just a little bit of uncertainty. I think you can get as many practice reps as you want, but nothing is quite like these game reps.”

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) drops back to throw during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium.

McCord continued his pathway to stardom in Columbus Saturday, throwing for 217 yards and two touchdowns at Ohio Stadium. More specifically, his completion percentage continues to improve.

Since Week 8, McCord has completed at least 62.5 percent of his throws and found the end zone once. On Saturday against the Golden Gophers, he completed 66.7 percent (20 of 30) of his throws.

“You can see him when he’s on rhythm and making some big-time reads on the field,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “I thought he threw some good balls today. When he’s playing situational football and his feet are in rhythm like that, you can see. We’ve got the weapons and he’s got the talent.”

Road tests won’t be a concern for McCord given his track record with Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) finding ways to secure wins away from Columbus. McCord’s biggest test came in Week 4 against Notre Dame, where he drove the Buckeyes 65 yards in 75 seconds to secure the 17-14 win.

McCord also rebounded after a sloppy first half with a three-touchdown performance against Rutgers earlier this month. And against Wisconsin, McCord tossed two more TDs en route to a 24-10 win.

Still, the home and road splits have been contrasted immensely. At home in conference play, McCord has completed 68 percent of his throws while averaging 9.22 yards per attempt.

Kyle McCord Hitting Stride At Best Time For Ohio State

He’s completing 62.2 percent of his pass attempts on the road and has yet to throw for 300 yards. All four of his interceptions also came away from Ohio Stadium.

Regardless of road stats, Saturday presents the biggest moment of McCord’s career. Even if the game were at home, the moment presenting itself couldn’t expand to greater heights.

Every week, McCord has looked sharp — sharper than the week before. Even Day admitted the improvements made from Week 1 are evident rep by rep.

“I think he’s seeing it well, and yeah, the communication has been good,” Day said.

Both Michigan and Ohio State enter Saturday undefeated. Both have a shot at punching their ticket to the postseason. And both have rosters that can hoist up the national title.

All that’s left is 60 minutes of play. Those 60 minutes have lingered in McCord’s mind since he arrived on campus.

It won’t have to remain quiet much longer.

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