Jalin Marshall didn't play his best football game last weekend against Minnesota.
His two fumbles in the frigid, snowy conditions in Minneapolis allowed the Golden Gophers to hang around in a game they were statistically dominated from start to finish. Ohio State eventually won the game, 31-24, but it shouldn't have even been that close.
Following the win, head coach Urban Meyer expressed the confidence he still had in his redshirt freshman H-back despite the two turnovers.
"Jalin had a tough game, but we haven't lost confidence in Jalin. We don't do that here," Meyer said after the game against the Golden Gophers.
Marshall received some pretty terrible hate on social media following that game against Minnesota. But in what was probably a difficult and uncomfortable situation to deal with, Marshall's teammates stood by him leading up to Saturday's matchup against Indiana, fully aware of the Middletown, Ohio native's capabilities.
“Jalin’s an outstanding football player and when you do a lot for a football team, bad things are gonna happen, it’s part of playing the game. You’re not gonna make every block, you’re not gonna make every catch and I have experienced it first hand," senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said. "Having that experience, I talked to him and we got him on the right foot going and he obviously came out and showed it today.”
Boy, did he ever.
In a game Ohio State was supposed to dominate, the Buckeyes suddenly found themselves trailing 20-14 in the middle of the third quarter inside a silenced Ohio Stadium to an Indiana team which was winless in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes forced the Hoosiers to punt and Marshall went back deep to receive the kick. He proceeded to take it 54 yards to the house for a game-changing touchdown that put Ohio State ahead, 21-20, and erupted the previously-silenced crowd at the Horseshoe.
“I wanted to attack the ball and be real aggressive," Marshall said of his punt return. Once I got the ball, I just put my foot in the ground and saw the end zone and got there.”
But Marshall wasn't done after the punt return. In fact, he scored three more touchdowns for the Buckeyes after that to give him four on the afternoon — an Ohio State record for a single half.
He hauled in touchdown passes from J.T. Barrett of six, 15 and 54 yards, finishing the game with five catches for 95 yards and four total TDs as he carried the Buckeyes to a 42-27 win over the Hoosiers.
“It’s very satisfying, but I’m not satisfied with my season yet," Marshall said. "But it does feel good to kind of have that barrier off my back with all the negative things I got toward me."
Marshall was well aware of those things that were said about him, admitting it was difficult at times to deal with. But Marshall certainly did his best to silence the doubters Saturday.
“It was kind of tough at first, but I had a lot of support from my teammates, the coaching staff and my family," he said. "They supported me the whole week so I kept my head up.”
And his play was huge in helping Ohio State avoid a disastrous upset. It also kept the Buckeyes' chances of making the College Football Playoff alive for at least one more week.
“I feel like we’re one of the strongest and most dangerous teams in the country and I feel like we can play with anybody," Marshall said. "As long as we execute at a high level, we go out there and compete every day and give great effort, we can go all the way.”