“Ben has made some plays in games but to make a play in a moment like that and change the momentum of the whole game, that says a lot for him.”
-Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day, via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch
Saturday’s 27-26 win was the narrowest of the season for Ohio State. That was no surprise. What was surprising were some of the defining moments that secured the victory for the Buckeyes. With a first-year starter at quarterback and a missing star on the defensive line, one had to wonder who was going to step up to secure the win for Ohio State.
One of those key moments came from junior receiver Binjimen Victor. In three seasons in Columbus, Victor has had some solid plays at receiver. Expectations naturally were high for the 6-foot-4 wideout who showed glimpses of his potential as a true freshman in 2016.
But he finally has a breakout play with his catch Saturday night against Penn State in the fourth quarter; a catch that gave the Buckeyes a chance to win the game.
Momentum favored Penn State, which had just scored a touchdown to go up 26-14 with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. At the start of the drive, Dwayne Haskins completed two passes for a total of 13 yards before a pass interference call against the Nittany Lions positioned the Buckeyes on the Penn State-side of the 50. The next play, under pressure, Haskins found Victor over the middle in man coverage. Victor reached back to snag the ball, evaded two would-be tacklers and careened to the endzone for a touchdown to spark the comeback for Ohio State.
Victor’s performance Saturday should come as no surprise given his natural talent and the ability he has shown his coaches in practice. He has been a solid blocker for the offense, even if his total receptions don’t reflect his capacity as a receiver. Now, however, any uncertainty about his ability as a standout receiver goes away with this momentum-changing play.
“Will he start against Indiana? Or will Pryor’s absence open the door for Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch to explore other options--perhaps corner Shaun Wade--at safety?”
-Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Once Jordan Fuller returned at safety for the second game of the season, it seemed like the Ohio State secondary was set for the year. Fuller shored up a unit that had some serious deficiencies with the big play in its opener against Oregon State (though issues at linebacker, obviously, have persisted).
Unfortunately, as things generally go over the normal course of a season, the line up in the secondary changed after this past weekend--at least for a half. Safety Isaiah Pryor was ejected during the fourth quarter Saturday on a targeting call after a hit on Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, who did not return to the game.
Because the penalty came in the second half of the game, Pryor will not be eligible for the first half of Ohio State’s game Saturday against Indiana. According to Urban Meyer, however, who exactly will be filling the void remains a question. Redshirt sophomore Jahsen Wint, who came in for the ejected Pryor Saturday, started in place of Fuller in the season opener and would seem the natural answer. However, redshirt freshman Shaun Wade and sophomore Brendan White are also being evaluated. Wade in particular has seen time when the Buckeyes bring in a nickel package, covering the slot receiver.
Regardless of who steps in for Pryor, the defense as a whole will have to regroup against the Hoosiers Saturday. Penn State recorded 492 yards of total offense, and Trace McSorley himself had 175 yards rushing on 25 carries. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Indiana hasn’t had the most prolific of passing attacks this season, averaging just 233 yards per game. The Buckeyes have given up around 200 yards through the air per game this season, with the high coming against TCU’s Shawn Robinson who threw for 308 against the Silver Bullets.
“Both offenses had struggled for much of the day. Both needed some huge plays along the way. And yet both made it happen.”
-David M. Hale, ESPN
After a weekend of almost-upsets and heart-stopping finishes, the murky College Football Playoff picture seems to finally be getting clearer. The biggest win, no doubt, came from Ohio State’s massive, fourth-quarter comeback. Clemson, meanwhile, managed a comeback of its own, with a backup quarterback carrying the Tigers to a win over a Syracuse team that upsetted them last season. The wins said a lot about both teams, in particular that both were able to make the big plays when it counted, and that no lead is safe.
After Binjimen Victor’s amazing touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against the Nittany Lions, pulling the Buckeyes within one score, the Ohio State defense held Trace McSorley’s offense to 28 yards and a punt on the next drive. With 4:34 left in the game, Dwayne Haskins marched his team 96 yards down the field, starting with a 35-yard pass to J.K. Dobbins. He capped the efficient, 2:31 drive with a touchdown pass to K.J. Hill to put the Buckeyes up one. While poor play calling may be partially to blame for Penn State’s stalled, last-ditch drive, credit has to go to the Ohio State defense that stuffed Penn State running back Miles Sanders on fourth down.
Clemson, meanwhile, had a 94-yard drive of its own, led by Chase Brice, who started the season as the third string quarterback. With a 13-play drive, which included a 20-yard reception to convert on fourth-down, Brice secured a 27-23 win for the Tigers.
With the comeback wins, both teams legitimized themselves as playoff contenders. In particular, with a road win over a top-10 team, the Buckeyes made themselves the team to beat in the Big Ten with a major resume boost along the way.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Fun fact! A record number of people got to see Ohio State beat Penn State.
- These guys were psyched about the win.
- Meanwhile, this pup was psyched for other reasons.