Each game, the momentum can shift from one team to the other on one play. Every week, we will list five plays, elements of plays or series of plays that made the most significant impact in Ohio State’s games.
Here’s the five plays that mattered most in No. 2 Ohio State’s 31-16 upset loss to No. 5 Oklahoma.
Four-play, 92-yard touchdown drive
Ohio State had scored its first touchdown of the game less than seven minutes before Oklahoma and quarterback Baker Mayfield completely changed the game’s trajectory.
The Sooners were able to pick apart the Ohio State pass defense Saturday night. That was most apparent during a dominant drive in the third quarter that ended up being the game-winning touchdown. Mayfield threw three passes for 87 yards on his way to one of three touchdown passes.
His connection with Mykel Jones for 42 yards, after scrambling to avoid pressure, was the Sooners’ longest play of the game. The very next play, Mayfield fired a pass to Lee Morris in the end zone after sucking in sophomore linebacker Malik Harrison with play-action.
That drive set the tone for a fourth quarter that Oklahoma commanded.
Following an Oklahoma touchdown that gave the Sooners a double-digit lead, Oklahoma’s defense took advantage of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett’s inaccuracies with 11:11 remaining in the game.
Barrett threw to his right to wideout Johnnie Dixon, but cornerback Parnell Motley read Barrett’s eyes and jumped in front of Dixon to intercept the pass at Ohio State’s 25-yard line. This set up another Oklahoma score, which made the lead insurmountable.
Overturned incomplete pass sets up first and goal
However, the touchdown set up by the interception almost didn’t happen. On third-and-8 with 9:33 remaining from the Ohio State 23, Mayfield threw to his right and found Jeff Badet, who appeared to be out of bounds. The Buckeyes thought they held Oklahoma to a field goal and kept the game within two scores.
But after a replay review, Badet’s foot hit in bounds before his knee hit out of bounds with possession of the ball, giving the Sooners first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. The very next play, wide receiver Jordan Smallwood dashed into the end zone on a jet sweep to seal his team’s victory.
Overthrow KJ Hill in end zone
For all the struggles Ohio State had in the passing game against Oklahoma Saturday night, there were opportunities. Arguably Barrett’s most significant miss of the night came with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter when he overthrew wide receiver K.J. Hill in the back of the end zone.
On third-and-goal from the Oklahoma 6-yard line, the Buckeyes had a chance to retake the lead by seven following Oklahoma’s tying touchdown on the drive before. Hill ran a crossing route and found himself open in the back left of the end zone, but Barrett threw it outside his reach incomplete.
Barrett and the offense marched 69 yards in less than three minutes, but stalled on the goal line. What seemed fairly insignificant at the time possibly ended up being a fateful omen as Oklahoma would score three drives later and never look back.
Turnover on short field only turns into field goal
At the start of the second quarter with no score still on the board, Badet fumbled a pass behind the line of scrimmage, and safety Damon Webb scooped up the ball to give Ohio State possession in Oklahoma territory.
For what had been a defensive battle to this point in the game, this was a possible offensive breakthrough. Ohio State didn’t have a short field, per say, but the offense still only had half a field to find the end zone with momentum on its side.
Barrett completed a pass to Hill for 13 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Oklahoma 9-yard line. The next play, Oklahoma star linebacker Obo Okoronkwo dropped Barrett in the backfield. After an incomplete pass, Barrett connected with H-back Parris Campbell for a modest 6 yards, and the Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal.
This was the first of what felt like many offensive possessions that could have ended in seven instead of three.