For the first time this season the Ohio State Buckeyes looked like the team that won the national championship last year as quarterback J.T. Barrett smoothly directed the team to a 49-7 win against Rutgers last night, Saturday, October 24 in Piscataway, New Jersey in a nationally televised game by ABC. Barrett accounted for five touchdowns running and passing as the scarlet and white resembled a powerful machine behind the Wichita Falls, Texas native who flung passes for 223 yards and ran for another 101 yards. It’s a long way from Rider High School in Texas to New Jersey, but the Texas native looked as poised as if he was in his own backyard as his deadly accurate passing struck a dagger in the hearts of Rutgers fans.
Kirk Herbstreit, an analyst for ESPN who called the game, said he thought Coach Urban Meyer made the correct decision in starting Barrett at quarterback last night. In fact, he went so far as to say he thought not only did the offense play better, but so did the defense because of Barrett’s leadership. Fellow players had voted Barrett a captain of the team. Cardale Jones had started the first seven games. He saw mop-up duty last night late in the fourth quarter with the second team after Barrett’s brilliance had eliminated any hope of a Rutgers upset.
Joe Farrey, of Dayton, Ohio, echoed Herbstreit’s sentiments, saying to Examiner that Barrett was “much better than pretty good. Absolutely outstanding. He seems to make the whole offense run smoother. Best showing by the Buckeyes this year!” Farrey is an avid OSU fan who follows the team closely and lives in the heartland of Ohio State football. He is something of an Ohio State historian who even remembers that former OSU coach Woody Hayes wore a black cap with a red O on it in his day.
Ohio State moved to 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten as a result of the victory which positions the Buckeyes well to retain their No. l national ranking. With Barrett at the helm, Ohio State scored touchdowns on seven of its first 10 drives. It was obvious things would be different last night from the first play in the game when the Bucks lined up four receivers in a bunch formation to the right side. This was a formation fans hadn’t seen all year. Barrett crossed up the defense by turning left and sprinting for 39 yards.
Barrett was almost perfect as he threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more. Barrett’s extraordinary performance brought peace to the civil war which has gone on since last season between Buckeye coaches, fans and players as to who should be the starting quarterback. Players seemed to be behind Barrett all the way as they voted him a captain. In recent games the fans had joined the Barrett bandwagon chanting, “J.T.! J..T.” as he scored touchdowns from inside the red zone on 10 of 11 opportunities.
In the end OSU coaches seemed to realize what Herbstreit and most fans have known for a long time. Barrett is the best fit for this offense. His deadly accuracy on intermediate range passes mixed with his ability to throw deep passes left the Rutgers secondary helpless. But it was his added dimension of making the correct decision as to whether to pitch the ball to another player or keep it himself that kept the Scarlet Knights defenders confused.
Barrett completed 14 of 18 for 223 yards and rushed for 101 yards on 13 carries. Even Meyer, who is sparse with his praise, said after the command performance, “J.T. Barrett came in and played very well, energized us.”
Barrett himself on ESPN said, “I didn’t really fell pressure to know I was going to play well or not. It was just letting the game come to me.”
The top story in college football since the Buckeyes won the national championship last season was who would start this year at quarterback in Columbus. Despite the fact Barrett set a Big Ten record by accounting for 45 touchdowns last season, the coaching staff named Cardale Jones the starter at the beginning of this season.
Barrett hit Michael Thomas with a short throw which the speedy receiver turned into a 50-yard touchdown as he outraced the Rutgers secondary. The Texas native when heaved a deep sideline throw to Braxton Miller who made a juggling catch on the 45-yard pass. Barrett sprinted in for a touchdown and the lead was a commanding 21-0 for the Buckeyes.
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood perhaps said it best, “He is the prototype dual threat quarterback, and he puts a tremendous amount of stress on your defense whenever he has the football, because he can run it like a running back, and he throws it very well.”
Barrett connected with Curtis Samuel on a deep throw to the end zone for a 30 yard touchdown to make the score 28-0 early in the third quarter. The game was basically over at that point as it was clear Rutgers had no answers for Barrett’s extraordinary talents. Maybe the soap opera that has engulfed Columbus is finally over. It is a conversation which has involved the nation.
A Wisconsin fan in San Francisco recently said to Examiner, “J.T. Barrett will be the starter before the season’s over.”
Even Meyer admitted to ESPN last night that he feels a new comfort to feel things are finally settled. The coach who has already won three national championships was evidently feeling the weight of the world in having to make this decision. It’s fortunate for the Buckeyes he’s made that decision with Michigan and Michigan State looming on the schedule ahead in the Big 10 East.