BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — As dropped passes go, Ohio State’ Parris Campbell had a big one Thursday night against Indiana, but he bounced back in a big way.
And it all happened in the same quarter.
Moments after breaking open and then dropping what would have been a sure touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett, the fourth-year junior snared a shorter pass on a crossing route and took it 74 yards for a touchdown with 4:38 to go in the third quarter.
It was the play that put the Buckeyes back in the lead and suddenly on a downhill run toward a 49-21 win over the Hoosiers in their season and Big Ten openers.
“After that drop, my teammates got around me. They kept hitting me with positive notes; that’s really what lifted me back up,” Campbell said. “I was kind of down in the dumps after that; I can’t lie.”
He had been projected as “the guy” for the offense by receivers coach Zach Smith, among others, taking over the starting spot at hybrid back that Curtis Samuel — now in the NFL — had taken to soaring heights last season.
“Just having them around me, still having that confidence in me, that’s what got me through it,” Campbell said.
What also helped was that Indiana had difficulty covering him on the dead sprint over the middle on shallow crossing routes. Barrett misfired on one in the first half that also had big-play possibilities.
Barrett hit him in stride on the one in the third quarter, and Campbell, gaining a clearing block from receiver Terry McLaurin, cut up the sideline and for the end zone.
Barrett said the whole offense, himself included, had some misfires, especially in the first half, which was why he kept looking for Campbell despite the drop.
“I’m not giving up on him, because that’s part of the game,” Barrett said.
The fourth-year starting quarterback was taking heat early, but he finished with 304 yards passing and three touchdowns. That and his rushing increased his career total offense to an Ohio State-record 8,864 yards.