Wichita Falls, Texas native J.T. Barrett showed why he was a Heisman Trophy candidate last year as he led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a convincing 42-13 victory against Michigan at the Big House in a nationally-televised game on ABC Sports today, Saturday, November 29. Barrett passed and ran for over 100 yards as he ignited the Buckeyes back into the Big 10 championship picture with a flawless performance at the helm of the Bucks in Ann Arbor.
Barrett probably scored the game-clinching touchdown with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter as he sprinted for 17 yards and paydirt to make the score 42-13. Meyer was seen jubilant on the sideline as his star quarterback crossed the goal line on that fourth down play. Game announcers said Meyer was upbeat during the week preceding this game. Meyer, who has already won three national championships at Florida and Ohio State, said the Buckeyes were still in the hunt for another national championship.
Meyer has now won his first four games against in the Wolverines in the heated rivalry ranked as one of the top in the nation. Ohio State players were clearly dispirited after last week’s 17-14 loss to Michigan State which dropped them from the undefeated ranks. Several players criticized the play calling of the coaching staff.
Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock was injured in the fourth quarter when Joey Bosa sacked him. It was an ironic twist as Barrett suffered a broken ankle in the 2014 game against Michigan. His season was ended by that play. Barrett has had to overcome all sorts of obstacles to return to where he is today. He rehabbed from the broken ankle fast due to an incredible work ethic and then had to beat out Cardale Jones to win the job back.
Meyer told ABC commentators during the week the fact the Buckeyes were still high in the rankings following their loss to the Spartans last week gave his players juice against Michigan. Their belief is they can still make the final four playoffs with a victory against highly-ranked Michigan.
Meyer has won national titles in 2006, 2008 and 2014. The victory today improved the Buckeyes record to 11-1. OSU won the national championship with one loss last year. If Ohio States doesn’t make the four-team playoff rankings they have a nice consolation prize awaiting them at the Rose Bowl. When Harbaugh played quarterback at Michigan, the winner of the Big 10 automatically went to the Rose Bowl.
Barrett and running back Zeke Elliott both powered their way to 100-yard rushing games. The Buckeyes ground out 371 yards rushing with a performance which should lift them in the rankings. Barrett kneeled down to run out the clock.
Elliott said he “was honored to be here.” It was Elliott who made the criticism of OSU coaches’ playcalling a week ago following the team’s only loss against MSU. Meyer hugged Elliott today and said his running back should be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation awards.
The Buckeyes will be closely watching the Michigan State-Penn State game today. If the Nittany Lions can upset the Spartans, Ohio State will win the Big 10 East and play in the Big 10 championship game against Iowa next week. However, if Michigan State beats Penn State it will win the Big 10 East, thus eliminating OSU from the Big 10 championship race.
Regardless of the Buckeyes ultimate fate this year, Barrett comeback has been an extaordinary story. He was the first quarterback recruited by Urban Meyer when he came to Ohio State four years ago after retirement. Offensive co-ordinator Tom Herman met with the Wichita Falls Rider star and his dad during the recruiting process.
Barrett said he was impressed by the support the football team had in Ohio. When he stopped at a restaurant to eat, everyone was saying “we” when referring to the football team. Barrett said he liked the fact the community felt like it was a part of the team.
Herman said at the time Barrett was the first quarterback he ever signed without first seeing him throw. The then offensive co-ordinator for the Buckeyes said, “He had offers from other schools so I felt like I had to make a quick decision. I didn’t want someone else to sign him.”
Barrett’s story is one of the most incredible in college sports history. His long trek from Wichita Falls, Texas to Columbus, Ohio is only a part of it. Taught well by his parents in Wichita Falls, he was an outstanding player and citizen at Wichita Falls Rider High School. He is the first Rider graduate to not only start, but to also star at Ohio State. One commentator said Barrett is good enough to play in the NFL someday.
A born leader, Barrett was voted a captain of the team before he was even the starter at quarterback. He was previously leader at Rider as he led the Raiders deep into the playoffs in the stiff Texas high school competition during his junior year. Although he suffered an injury his senior year he also came back from that. Barrett has incredible intelligence and Meyer has said he could coach at Ohio State someday if he so desired.
Barrett has all the intangibles to make him a big success not only in football, but also in life. He is one of the great stories to ever come out of Wichita Falls.
The Ohio Legislature declared today “Scarlet Letter Saturday,” according to Fox affiliate Channel 8. The resolution urges Ohioans not to use the 13th letter of the alphabet on game day. It even has the latter “M” crossed out. Governor Kasich said he will not use the “M” word today. The rivalry is so fierce, Meyer often refers to Michigan only as “that school up north.”
Many people in Wichita Falls are now cheering an Ohio State football player for the first time in their lives. In an area of Texas where most citizens are either fans of Baylor, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Houston, SMU, Midwestern State or some other school in the Lone Star State, J.T. Barrett has certainly caused people to watch OSU games who never previously would have been interested. J.T. Barrett is definitely a difference -maker.