Football Buckeyes using momentum of big plays to succeed

OSU junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) encourages Buckeyes fans to make noise during the second half against Indiana on Oct. 8. The Buckeyes won 38-17. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorMomentum is a vital part of success for every team in every sport. A single shift in the intangible force can dictate the outlook of any athletic contest, and the Ohio State football team has depended on momentum to pull out in front of the opposition and stay there for much of this season.Against Tulsa, the Buckeyes were searching for their footing against a nonconference opponent that should have been a cakewalk for a team ranked inside the top 10. Finding themselves up by only three points, OSU was searching for something to shift into another gear.Sure enough, redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker jumped in front of a pass from Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans. Hooker returned the interception for a touchdown, and OSU rolled from then on.Against Oklahoma, after scoring on an early fourth-down conversion attempt, OSU was being pushed back by the Sooner offense. As Baker Mayfield lined-up to lead his team in its own fourth-down attempt, sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker stepped up for the Buckeyes.After Baker returned a 68-yard interception for a touchdown, Oklahoma fired right back with a kickoff return for a touchdown. After regrouping, OSU marched down the field for 89 yards and a rushing touchdown.For the rest of the game, the momentum was on the side of OSU.Even last Saturday, when Indiana was knocking on the door, the Buckeyes rode the high of a big play. This time, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Parris Campbell was the man to push OSU forward.Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett knew how vital the play was for the rest of the game.“It was a momentum swing,” Barrett said after the game.A 91-yard kickoff return by the Akron, Ohio, native set OSU up for an easy score. The Buckeyes had to go less than 10 yards for a touchdown.Campbell has been making big plays all season on special teams, and had his first breakaway return this year against the Hoosiers. He, too, felt it was the turning point of the game.“Going out onto the field, KOR, I definitely felt like we needed the momentum back,” Campbell said. “Before every kickoff, I go out there and I say a little prayer: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I knew we need momentum … so I had to step up.”Big plays and feeding off back-to-back scores have been vital to the success of OSU. Last year, especially against Michigan State, the team struggled to string together plays to keep momentum on its side.This year, the Buckeyes are a different unit. The team is feeding off the key plays of other units, and keeps up the pressure when there’s an opening. In every game this year, OSU has scored a touchdown in the final two minutes of the half.For OSU coach Urban Meyer, momentum shifts can lift a team up and keep them rolling.“(Campbell’s return) was a huge play in the game,” Meyer said. “Anytime you take a sense of momentum into the locker room, that creates a little more positive energy as you come out the second half.”Without some of the plays that have put games firmly in the grasp of the Buckeyes, the season could be very different for OSU.With seven more conference games ahead for OSU, No. 8 Wisconsin up next, momentum will once again be key if the team hopes to keep a perfect record.

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