It may seem a little hard to believe looking back now, but the Ohio State – Indiana game was competitive into the second quarter.
The Buckeyes led the Hoosiers just 7-3 when they took over with 13:50 to play until the half.
Chris Olave capped the ensuing drive with a 37-yard touchdown catch that expanded the lead to 14-3. Then Olave followed up his offensive touchdown with a huge play on special teams.
He raced in and blocked a punt which bounced out the back of the end zone for a safety. Just like that, 7-3 was 16-3 and the Buckeyes were getting the ball back yet again.
Five plays after that it was 23-3. In the span of just 5:20 of game clock, the Buckeyes had turned a slugfest into a comfortable lead. And after an Indiana punt, it took just five more plays for the lead to grow to 30-3. That was more than enough for them to cruise home to a 51-10 win.
If the Olave Daily Double gave you a case of deja vu, you weren’t alone. In last year’s Michigan game, he scored a pair of offensive touchdowns, and then help turn the tide of the game with another punt block for a score.
But in both cases, it was the blocked punt that really swung the feeling inside the stadium.
“You definitely feel that on the field, feel like it’s a momentum changer,” Olave said after the win over Indiana. “Sparks the whole team.”
Just like last year, Olave came in completely unblocked. Then it was just a matter of whether he would be fast enough to get the before the ball was gone.
“It’s just a lot of technique and fundamentals,” Olave said. “A little bit of speed. Coaches draw it up for us to block it, and we went out there and got it.”
Urban Meyer’s Florida teams were 16-0 when they blocked a punt, and the former OSU coach made special teams play a big emphasis when he arrived in 2012.
When Ryan Day took over following the 2018 season, he saw no reason to change any of that.
“I think when you look back at the history of Ohio State, especially in the last 10 years or so, the best players have played on special teams,” Day said.
“Somebody’s impact is different. You think about Terry (McLaurin) last year, he was a gunner. You think about some of the guys have been returners or different things. Chris has been these punt blocks. He’s tremendous at that. He just has a knack for it.
“When you see what he did last year in the rivalry game, and he gets another one here, it changes the whole game.”