Buckeyes’ struggling passing game without speedster Campbell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s struggling offense may have to do without starting wide receiver and kick returner Parris Campbell against No. 9 Nebraska on Saturday.
Campbell, a sophomore who this season was seeing his first significant playing time, left the game in the fourth quarter after being hurt while blocking for Curtis Samuel. Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that Campbell has a high ankle sprain and is questionable for this week’s game.
“It’s much better than we thought,” Meyer said of the injury.
Campbell has caught 10 passes for 96 yards and earned raves from Meyer for his development and effort this season. He’s also compiled 326 yards returning kickoffs. Someone will have to be the next man up, and several receivers are in line.
“(Binjimen) Victor is getting so close, we’ve got to just get him through the hump,” Meyer said. “James Clark and Terry McLaurin are going to step up and play.”
Quarterback J.T. Barrett said Campbell’s effort was critical.
“He does a lot of us, especially on special teams,” Barrett said. “Someone is going to have to step in and fill that role, but he’s definitely a valuable player to us.”
No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) is having a rough time getting its vertical passing game working even with Campbell, one of its fleetest receivers, in the starting lineup.
The Buckeyes punted on five straight possessions on Saturday and allowed Northwestern, a multi-touchdown underdog, to tie the score at 17 in the third quarter. Ohio State then mounted a six-play, 63-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard Samuel touchdown run with 9:43 left in the game.
Northwestern then got to the Ohio State 3, but settled for a field goal to close to 24-20 with 3:31 left. The Buckeyes mounted a final clock-eating drive, with Barrett hitting Noah Brown for 16 yards on third-and-8 and then taking off on a 35-yard run to convert a third-and-10 and put the Buckeyes in the clear.
The narrow escape came a week after Ohio State lost to unranked Penn State 24-21, a game marked by a blocked field goal attempt that the Nittany Lions ran back for a touchdown.
NOTES: Ohio State will play Nebraska (7-1, 4-1) for the first time since their 2012 meeting in Columbus, won by the Buckeyes 63-38….Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker have been named semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker. Baker has been a terrific surprise since taking over a starting role after Dante Booker was injured in the opening game….Safety Malik Hooker is one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s best defensive back.