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With stakes high, Ohio State WR Victor has defining moment

September 30, 2018

Ohio State's Binjimen Victor (9) catches a pass in front of Penn State's Amani Oruwariye (21) and runs in for a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. Ohio State won 27-26. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer spotted signs in practice recently of a breakout moment coming for Binjimen Victor.

Quarterback Dwayne Haskins agreed with Meyer, saying Victor makes plenty of eye-popping plays during the week. Offensive coordinator Ryan Day said the junior receiver’s blocking was excellent against TCU two weeks ago and that alone made him worthy of continued opportunities at a deep position for the Buckeyes.

Victor, a former four-star recruit from Florida who has not yet lived up to the billing at Ohio State, provided what could turn out to be one of the biggest plays of the season for the Buckeyes on Saturday night against Penn State. Victor’s reaching grab and swerving, tackle-breaking run for a 47-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter quickly flipped a game that was going the Nittany Lions’ way, and sparked a 27-26 come-from-behind victory for Ohio State.

“I think it’s a defining moment for him,” Day said. “I think when Ben made that play, there were guys on the sideline saying, ‘We’re going to win this game right now.’”

The Buckeyes had fallen behind by 12 points with eight minutes left in front of a record crowd at of 110,889 at Beaver Stadium, and were in need of a fast response. Haskins bought some time and found Victor cutting over the middle, and then the 6-foot-4 Victor did the rest, cutting from the sideline back to the center of the field to finish up a play that make it 26-20 with 6:42 left.

“To be honest, I don’t even know what happened,” Victor said. “There was somebody in my face. All I saw was green grass, and I just took off. I had to make a couple people miss, and that was it.”

Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) moved up a spot to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 on Sunday, and Penn State (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) slipped to No. 11.

On a team with lots of talented receivers, Victor is about fifth or sixth in line for the Buckeyes. He made only one other catch against Penn State, for 8 yards, and for the season has seven catches for 126 yards. Coming into the season, Victor had 27 catches for 413 yards with eight touchdowns, though most of his production has come in games Ohio State has won handily.

It’s not what Ohio State or Victor would have expected from a player who was considered one of the 20 best receivers in the country by most recruiting services coming out of high school.

Meyer insisted the signs have been there for Victor to take a step forward.

“He’s been outrageous inn practice,” Meyer said Saturday night.

Haskins, who threw three touchdown passes against Penn State to give him 19 for the season, said he sees it in Victor, too.

“He’s a freaky athlete. He makes those catches every day. This was the time he needed to do it in a game, and he came up big,” Haskins said.

One play might not be enough to disrupt the Ohio State depth chart, but it is nice to have lots options when the stakes are high.

“You know, when I got a chance, you only get a couple,” Victor said. “You just have to make it pay.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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