2018 was a fantastic season, and one that came with plenty of excitement. The Buckeyes finished the regular season with just one loss and won a conference championship.
Though the Purdue game still stings, it shouldn’t overshadow some other truly amazing moments.
And, in order to make it as far as they have, preparing to play in the “Granddaddy of them All,” OSU had to make quite a few important plays.
Below are five such plays that were crucial in helping to preserve such a successful and fun season.
Five Most Important Plays of 2018 (in game order)
Dre’Mont Jones’ Shovel Score
#4 Ohio State versus #15 TCU, in Texas, without Urban Meyer… yep, this was a big game. The Buckeye offense started slowly, failing to score an offensive TD in the first half. The defense, despite an early defensive touchdown, allowed the Horned Frogs to move the ball (some drives quicker than others) and take an eight-point lead early in the second half.
Not only were the Buckeyes behind by a score, but their best player on the roster had left the game with an injury prior to the last TCU touchdown. Nevertheless, the offense surged back as Parris Campbell took a screen pass untouched for 63 yards and a score. A failed two-point conversion kept OSU down by two as TCU retook possession of the ball with the intent to pad their lead.
On a third and six following Campbell’s TD, OSU’s defense seized all the momentum that it would need for the remainder of the game. TCU QB Shawn Robinson took the shotgun snap and began running wide. Facing a blitzing Pete Werner, he took a chance that the play was set up and shoveled the ball toward running back Sewo Olonilua. TCU’s center assumed that Dre’Mont Jones was pinched by the right guard and gave up his own block on #86 to continue scraping down the line and sealing the end. Jones shot the gap between the two and found himself directly in front of the running back and the pitched ball.
From there, it was simply an athlete making a play. Jones intercepted the short toss and gave his best Heisman run to the end zone. This play gave OSU the edge, which they would maintain for the rest of the contest. Plus, who doesn’t love to see big guy touchdowns?
Down 12 points in the fourth quarter, Ohio State appeared to be on the verge of falling to #9 Penn State. After what could have been a back-breaking late touchdown by PSU, Ohio State needed points and needed them quickly.
The Bucks got a couple of gains, then benefited from a pass interference call that bumped them into Nittany Lion territory. Now under seven minutes to go, the Buckeyes couldn’t afford to dink and dunk the ball down the field. Haskins took the snap, and immediately felt pressure as a blitzing Lion charged at him. The QB stepped forward in the pocket and threw a pass off of his back foot and across his body. Victor adjusted in mid-air as he leapt, reached back and snagged the ball above the would-be defender.
Victor caught the ball at the 35 and avoided being brought immediately down by the defender. He stepped over the safety’s tackle attempt, which also managed to remove the initial DB from the play. I have to assume the rest of the play is what Brian Hartline handed Urban Meyer and Ryan Day as his video resume.
Victor ran and was aided by a tremendous block from Parris Campbell. This turned the ball carrier back to the center of the field where he caught another fantastic block from Rashod Berry. In addition, a PSU defender overran the play. Victor’s cutback had him burnt but not out of the action. Not out, that is, until Johnnie Dixon put himself between Victor and the Nittany Lion and gave his teammate the room he needed to get into the endzone.
Though it wasn’t the game-winning drive, the efficiency with which this score took place allowed OSU the time it needed for a comeback win.
Nebraska Upsets OSU!! … JK
(Didn’t think my headline could be more lame and cliche than the last one? Think again!)
I realize that the play below isn’t, perhaps, the most exciting. It’s a great run, but maybe not “top five plays” worthy. However, because of when this play occurred, and what had happened a week prior, it’s on my list.
I’ll spare you the details of Saturday, October 20. It was bad, and it cost the Buckeyes a chance at other postseason aspirations. With that said, the show goes on, and OSU had to prove that they could bounce back against their next opponent, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Unfortunately, for much of the game, the chance of another upset loomed.
With seven minutes left in the contest, Nebraska was forced to kick a field goal that brought them back within one score. Ohio State needed a statement, and that’s what they got. After a couple of decent passing gains, OSU leaned on JK Dobbins. He got them a first down on carries of six and four yards, respectively.
And then, with a safety creeping up to the line of scrimmage and unknowingly taking himself out of the play, the Buckeyes got their break. Dobbins took the Haskins handoff and ran through the A gap. Malcolm Pridgeon got just enough of his man and was aided by a hand-check from Michael Jordan.
Following the jab to Pridgeon’s man, Jordan made it to the second level, put his hands on the linebacker, and cleared the path for Dobbins. With all of the Huskers blocked or otherwise eliminated, it was an easy 42-yard touchdown run for the talented back.
This game and specific play helped to get the Buckeyes back in the win column and re-established a run game that had previously been lacking.
Demario Almost Makes A House McCall
In a game with 14 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards of offense, you might be surprised to see that I’m not selecting a scoring play here. Looking back on that crazy Maryland game, there was one play that jumps out at me, and it was a kickoff return.
Breaks didn’t exactly go Ohio State’s way, and Maryland’s go-ahead score was par for the course. The Buckeye’s had Anthony McFarland wrapped up (imagine that) at the goal line as Pete Werner crushed him from the side, jarring the ball loose. Instead of this being an all-important turnover, it was advanced and fallen upon by the Terps… for a TD.
With no timeouts, OSU had to go the length of the field and score a touchdown just to force overtime. Oh, and they only had 1:41 to do it. At the time, I was plotting out how OSU would cover so much ground. Little did I know that Demario McCall intended to help out quite a bit.
The speedster fielded the ensuing kickoff cleanly at the 7-yard line and headed up the seam. With a slight head fake, he gave himself just enough room to slip by a tackler at the 20. At the 25, he spun on a dime toward the middle of the field and left a Maryland player hugging air. By the 28, he’d regained his composure enough to slam his left foot into the ground and explode back toward the sideline, leaving another player befuddled. After that, it was a foot race. He gained another 22 yards before a Terrapin forced him out of bounds at midfield.
In a matter of nine seconds, McCall took the Buckeyes from an awful situation to a spot where they had plenty of time to accomplish what they needed. And, that they did.
The Field is Olave!
(Sorry, but, tell me it’s not “fire,” as the kids say, when this kid steps on the field.)
Chris Olave, an electric receiver from California, had as many tackles as he had catches going into week 11. He pretty much flew under the radar for much of the season. And then came The Game.
Olave started the scoring, snagging a short pass and outrunning a Michigan defender to the end zone. A quarter later, he made a veteran move for six more points. He cut inside of his DB, adjusting to the thrown ball, and hauled in his second TD of the afternoon. Kids at home, if you want to be Buckeye famous… do good things against Michigan.
After some literal bad bounces, OSU was again in a tight game with their “rivals.” Up by just a score, late in the third quarter, Olave further cemented himself in rivalry lore. The Buckeye defense held the struggling Wolverine offense, forcing a punt from their own 36-yard line. On a newly designed punt block call, Chris Olave worked his magic.
The uber-fast frosh hesitated for a second at the snap, then darted inside, from his spot just beyond the left tackle through the A gap. Keandre Jones bumped the personal protector just enough to let Olave fly by at top speed an instant before he’d lay out and block the punt. The wounded ball wobbled into the air and wound up in the hands of OSU’s Sevyn Banks, who ultimately banked it for seven.
When your quarterback demolishes the school passing records, you have a 1,000-yard running back, and only lose one game, there is no shortage of memorable plays. Those noted above are my most important five, with regards to preserving a Rose Bowl-caliber year.
What would you change on the list?