Ohio State Football: JT Barrett’s performance best of his career

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 28: J.T. Barrett /

Among senior quarterback JT Barrett’s 44 career games as the Ohio State starting quarterback, his performance during the victory over Penn State ranks atop the list. The senior pulled the team from the brink of playoff elimination in the 39-38 come-from-behind victory.

JT Barrett at times has been the scapegoat for frustrated Ohio State fans. The 31-0 loss to Clemson, the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma and topsy-turvy quarterback play against Michigan (despite the eventual victory) lead to plenty of questions.

Yesterday, JT Barrett’s reputation was truly on the line and he didn’t stutter. In fact, the played the very best game of his career.

In five consecutive games, Barrett and the Buckeyes offense rolled opponents, averaging 53.2 points per contest. Despite the -6.5 point spread in favor of the No. 6 Buckeyes, it’d be hard to find a soul wearing Scarlet and Gray who thought No. 2 Penn State wouldn’t give the Buckeyes a run for their money.

The Nittany Lions came into Ohio Stadium and returned the opening kick for a touchdown; Saquon Barkley was in Columbus to win.

Then, Ohio State’s Paris Campbell fumbled after a catch on the team’s third play from scrimmage. Penn State’s offense then took that turnover and made it a 14-0 ballgame at the 11:36 mark of the first quarter.

Sitting in that student section, you could feel the air lift out of the 109,302 seat stadium. Penn State twice held 18-point leads on the Buckeyes; once at 21-3 (11:40 left in the second quarter) and once at 28-10 (8:06 left in the second).

The second quarter left the Buckeyes trailing the Nittany Lions 28-17, and the situation felt a little hopeless. Trailing by 11 points at halftime to the No. 2 team in the country isn’t exactly a warm feeling.

Enter JT Barrett, the redeemer

Out of the halftime tunnel, the Buckeyes started with the rock, driving down field, but only earning a field goal. This left the score 28-20, but renewed enthusiasm to a drained stadium.

It didn’t stick around for long as Penn State took their first drive of the second half 70 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. The 35-20 Penn State lead was about as solid as they come.

Then it happened. JT Barrett caught fire. The senior quarterback completed his last 16 throws of the game, each one with terrific poise. Head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson seemingly couldn’t miss in a play call either.

Barrett used just two plays to go 41 yards for an Ohio State touchdown; a 3-yard pass to Mike Weber Jr on the first, then a 38-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon on the second. At the 11:05 mark in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes were suddenly very, very alive, trailing Penn State just 35-27.

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Next up, Penn State answered with a brutish, 10-play, 64-yard drive for a field goal. With 5:42 left on the clock and an 11-point deficit(38-27), JT couldn’t afford to miss, so he didn’t.

It took Barrett and the Ohio State offense just five plays and a minute-and-twenty-two-seconds to drive 76 yards for a touchdown. Penn State committed costly penalties giving JT the window to throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon. That closed the gap to Penn State 38, Ohio State 33, with 4:20 left on the game clock.

The defense held Penn State to a three-and-out, so Barrett and company could drive for the win with a little over four minutes of clock… so they did.

On the last drive, JT looked like an elite NFL quarterback, that’s inarguable. It took the senior 5 plays to go 58 yards, hitting Marcus Baugh over the top for an 18-yard-touchdown.

With 1:48 of clock for Penn State to punch a field goal through the uprights for the win, the Ohio State defense held, turning the Nittany Lions over on four downs.

Next: Zone 6 must step up against Penn State

JT Barrett’s final stat line showed 33-of-39 passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 95 yards on 17 attempts. But most importantly, he came up big when it counted.