1. J.T. Barrett might not have a rocket arm; he might be a bit slow in his decision making; he might not be a legitimate NFL prospect; and yes, in the end he might not be good enough to lead this Buckeye team to a national championship. But Joe Thomas Barrett IV is definitely the best quarterback in the 127-year history of Ohio State football. Barrett already holds all of the important career QB records at Ohio State including passing yards (8,547); passing touchdowns (94); completion percentage (.645); and total yards (11,466). Barrett has 2,919 career rushing yards, and he will soon surpass Braxton Miller (3,054 yards) to become the Buckeyes career leader in rushing yards for a quarterback. With 33 wins as a starting quarterback, Barrett still has a very good chance to tie or exceed Art Schilchter's career record of 36 wins.
2. Barrett played the best game of his career - and arguably the greatest game by any Buckeye QB ever - in the biggest game of his career. #2 Penn State was the highest-ranked opponent that Barrett has ever faced, and the Nittany Lions' defense ranked #1 in the nation in scoring defense and #9 in total defense. In addition, the game was essentially a playoff contest for the Buckeyes - with one loss already in the ledger, a second loss, even to a quality opponent, would have meant elimination from the playoffs. And on that big stage and with all that pressure, Barrett simply produced a school-record 423 yards of total offense (328 passing, 95 rushing) and 4 touchdowns (all passing), all while leading his team to an historic 18-point comeback. Barrett was his best when the pressure was greatest, going 13/13 for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter, completing his final pass of the game, the go-ahead 16-yard touchdown to TE Marcus Baugh, with just 1:48 left on the clock.
3. Throughout the first three quarters of the game, the Buckeyes attempted numerous wide receiver screens and running back swing passes with little or no success. The last such pass was thrown with 11:39 left in the game, an outlet pass to Mike Weber that gained just three yards. After that, it seemed like Barrett just said: "Screw this, I'm going down field no matter what." And guess what happened? Historic success in a furious comeback, specifically:
4. Barrett's passing was phenomenal all night long, and especially toward the end of the game when he completed a school record 16 passes in a row. However, his biggest plays of the game were his final two runs. With Ohio State clinging to a 1-point lead, and with 1:22 left on the clock, the Buckeyes needed a first down to ice the ballgame. With everyone in The Horseshoe knowing exactly what would happen - namely a QB run play - Barrett managed to find 4 yards off the left side of the Buckeye line. Then on second down, again with no doubt as to the play call, Barrett again ran left for 8 yards and the game-clinching first down.
- 38 yards to Johnnie Dixon for a TD
- 11 yards to Austin Mack
- 4 yards to Marcus Baugh
- 13 yards to K.J. Hill
- 18 yards to Austin Mack
- 10 yards to Johnnie Dixon for a TD
- 20 yards to Terry McLaurin
- 6 yards to K.J. Hill
- 14 yards to K.J. Hill
- 16 yards to Marcus Baugh for a TD
5. Apart from a few procedural penalties, the Buckeye offensive line played a great game, allowing only 2 sacks and generating 39 points, 529 yards, and 6.8 yards per play against a top-10 defense. They were especially good down the stretch, when even the slightest miscue could have led to a drive-killing penalty, sack, or turnover. Props to a unit that was much-maligned last season but has grown into a strength of the team in 2017.
6. The Buckeye defense will get a lot of credit for assisting in the win, and overall they played a fine game, holding Penn State to just 283 yards of total offense. The 38 points allowed is misleading, as 7 came on Saquon Barkley's 97-yard kick-off return to open the game, and 14 more were scored on short field drives (23 yards after a Buckeye fumble, 23 yards after a 60-yard kick return). The Buckeyes also had a pair of interceptions in the end zone that were overturned, one by a phantom pass interference call and another by the deus ex machina known as the replay official (more on that later). The Buckeye defense had 13 tackles for loss, held Heisman front runner Barkley to 44 yards on 21 carries (including -8 yards on 6 carries in the critical 4th quarter), and allowed Penn State's explosive offense just 4.4 yards per play.
7. On the negative side, the defense did allow Penn State to convert on 3rd-and-8; 3rd-and-10; 3rd-and-11; 3rd-and-13; and 3rd-and-13 (for a TD). The Buckeyes play a high-risk, high-reward defense, with lots of press man coverage and blitzing. This philosophy will lead to plenty of sacks and turnovers, but also plenty of big plays, blown coverages, and pass interference penalties. You just have to take to bad with the good, I guess.
8. J.K. Dobbins is on pace to rush for 1,403 yards this season (assuming 13 games), which would be a new school record for a freshman (1,237 yards by Maurice Clarett in 2002) and the 13th-best single season ever for a Buckeye.
9. In 113 rushes for the season, Dobbins has just 3 lost yards. Last night, over-hyped Heisman hopeful Saquon Barkley had 36 lost yards on 21 carries.
10. Johnnie Dixon is currently averaging 25.5 yards per reception (13 catches for 332 yards) this season, which would be the 3rd-best single season ever for a Buckeye receiver behind Devin Smith (28.2 ypc in 2014) and Cedric Anderson (27.7 ypc in 1982).
11. K.J. Hill is quietly having a fine season, leading the team with 40 receptions and second with 376 yards receiving.
12. The special teams will receive a lot of blame for the near loss last night, and righfully so. A 97-yard kick return directly led to a touchdown, and a 60-yard return set up a short field touchdown. However, the special teams did also block a punt that sparked the Buckeyes' fourth quarter comeback; Sean Nuernberger connected on a pair of short field goals (and even short field goals were no sure thing last season); and even the kick coverage team somewhat redeemed themselves in the fourth quarter when they pinned Barkley at the Penn State 15-yard line after the Buckeyes had closed the gap to 38-33.
13. And now for the replay official. According to the Big Ten's own website: "Only specific plays are reviewable, and only those plays where the absolute standard of indisputable video evidence is met can a play be overturned." That's the Big Ten using the bold face type, by the way. Contrary to popular belief, the job of the replay official is not to "get the call right". The job of the replay official is to review the video evidence and overturn the call on the field IF AND ONLY IF that video evidence INDISPUTABLY shows that the official on the field made a mistake. The replay official MUST allow the call to stand even if the official on the field probably made the wrong call. The only way that the replay official can overturn the call is if the official on the field definitely blew it. On the Denzel Ward interception last night, there was no indisputable video evidence of any kind. You can watch those replays a million times and not be 100% certain whether Ward intercepted the pass, or whether DeAndre Thompkins caught the pass, or whether the pass fell incomplete. The official on the field ruled interception, and he might very well have blown the call. But that's not the point. The replay official overstepped his bounds by changing the call without meeting that "absolute standard of indisputable video evidence." And don't let all those Wizards of Smart in the media tell you otherwise, because they obviously don't know the standard for replay review.
14. And while we're discussing controversial topics, let's talk about the alternate uniforms last night. I personally don't care about the uniforms one way or another. It seems to me that a lot of the older fans like the traditional uniforms, and a lot of the younger fans think that the alternate uniforms are kind of cool (at least from time to time). I can tell you that the use of alternate uniforms has a lot to do with the fans (jersey sales), but it is also a recruiting tool, something to create a buzz around the Ohio State program. Now the "get off my lawn" crowd will say that Ohio State doesn't need to resort to gimmicks to create buzz for the program, and they do have a point. But there is a real psychological aspect to this whole uniform debate. From time immemorial, "tribes" of people have identified with colors and implemented colors into their uniforms, from the Highland Scots with their plaids, to medieval nobility with their coats of arms, to modern gangs with their bandannas. Colors do in fact mean something to most people, and what more "tribal" activity do we have today that our sports teams? Those of us who became Buckeye fans on the day we were born are naturally going to favor the traditional scarlet and gray gear. Those who have no natural affinity for the Buckeyes (your typical out-of-state recruit, for example) might be impressed with the alternate uniforms, and might want to come to Ohio State to show off such uniforms on a huge national stage. In any event, alternate uniforms are here to stay, so get used to it.
15. With the win last night, Ohio State improves to 19-14 all-time versus Penn State, and 17-8 in Big Ten play.
16. In closing, last night's game was one of the greatest in Buckeye history, as well as in the history of college football. Now that you know the outcome, go back and watch it again and simply enjoy a great game.
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