COLUMBUS – Ohio State coach Urban Meyer needed to be convinced that one of the key plays in Saturday’s win over Michigan would work.
Freshman Chris Olave’s blocked punt that turned into a touchdown in the third quarter might have been the play that turned the game in Ohio State’s direction for good when it beat its biggest rival 62-39 in a game that turned out to be as unexpected as it was one-sided.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t think we could do it. That’s Coach Schiano (defensive coordinator Greg Schiano drew that up. I saw it on Wednesday in practice. I said, ‘You only have 2.1 seconds to get there. And he’s not that fast,” Meyer said.
“And Schiano kept saying, `We can do it, we can do it. So I called the block. We called the block and we have two blocks, and I thought we were going to go with the other one. And I hear him go ahead, and I see the signal. And I got really mad “I said, ‘We’re not going to get there, we’re not going to get there, we’re not going to get there.’ It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong. Been wrong many, many times,” he said.
Olave, a freshman from Mission Hills, Calif., near San Diego, has worked his way into Ohio State’s deep receiver rotation since Austin Mack had to have foot surgery.
Saturday, he earned a place in Ohio State-Michigan game history. It was something he wouldn’t have imagined a year ago. And something he didn’t completely understand.
“I didn’t know anything about it (the Ohio State-Michigan game). I watched them last year and it was just like a regular game to me. But I got here and it all changed. I know it’s the biggest rivalry in sports history,” Olave said.
Meyer said, “Greg Schiano picked him to go block that punt. There’s very few that can get there. And he did it.”
Meyer was finally convinced that the punt block could work. Now Ohio State has some convincing of its own to do.
The Buckeyes have been stuck at No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Losses by some teams ahead of them will move them up this week.
But would that, along with Saturday’s big win over Michigan and a win in the Big Ten championship game against Northwestern be enough to get OSU into the final four?
Jim Naveau writes for the Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.