The Ohio State Buckeyes heard the critics loud and clear Sept. 9 after losing 31-16 to Oklahoma.
The chatter stuck with the Buckeyes the last two weeks in blowout victories against Army and UNLV. It will motivate them as they compete for a spot in the Big Ten championship the next two months and try to fight their way back into contention for a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
“I got my players backs,” wide receivers coach Zach Smith wrote Saturday on Twitter, “and we LOVE criticism. It fuels us and makes us better. Talkers talk … players play … coaches coach.”
“And that’s a fact,” hybrid back Parris Campbell wrote. “Say less.”
Campbell, a redshirt junior from Akron, continues to speak with actions on the field. He turned a short pass into a 69-yard touchdown on Ohio State’s first drive Saturday in a 54-21 victory against UNLV. He finished with three receptions for 105 yards.
Campbell also returned a kickoff 82 yards to the UNLV 8-yard line. He leads college football in kickoff return average (42.6 yards). Urban Meyer described Campbell’s return game Monday as dynamic.
“I’ve done special teams forever,” Meyer said, “and if you get a real guy back there, you block harder. Just human nature. If you get a guy who can’t do that, it’s ‘Why am I doing this?’ Because there’s not one player in this program that came here to be a right guard on kickoff return. Knowing that cat’s back there, you better block hard because this might come out.”
The No. 11 Buckeyes (3-1, 1-0) play at Rutgers (1-3, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Rutgers has one of the most improved defenses in the nation, Meyer said, so it should provide a bigger challenge than Ohio State’s last two opponents.
Stopping Campbell will be a big part of any opponent’s game plan in the last eight regular-season games. He ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 80.5 receiving yards per game. He’s tied with K.J. Hill for the team lead in receptions (18) and leads the team by a wide margin with 322 receiving yards.
Campbell caught a 74-yard touchdown pass in the season opener at Indiana and also turned a short pass into a long touchdown against Army, though that score was taken off the board because of a penalty.
“My anticipation whenever I catch a ball is to take it to the house every time,” Campbell said. “I think anticipation with that helps a lot.”
Notes: Meyer listed defensive tackle Robert Landers (foot) and linebacker Chris Worley (foot) as probable for Saturday. … Malik Barrow, a redshirt freshman defensive tackle, tore the ACL in his right knee in the second half against UNLV and will miss the rest of the season. Barrow suffered the same injury in his other knee in high school. … Meyer named right tackle Isaiah Prince the offensive player of the game for his performance against UNLV. Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones shared the defensive award. … Ohio State announced Monday the homecoming game against Maryland on Oct. 7 will start at 4 p.m. and be televised by FOX.