During his time at Ohio State, J.T. Barrett has often been the calm in the midst of Buckeyes’ storms. Whether it was leading Ohio State to a winning record in 2014 after replacing Braxton Miller or providing stability to a struggling offense late last season, Barrett has been a difference-maker.
After watching Wisconsin push the Ohio State defense up and down the field for a 10-point halftime lead, Barrett put the Buckeyes on his back again in one of toughest venues in college football.
In Ohio State’s thrilling 30-23 overtime win over a tough Wisconsin squad in Camp Randall Stadium, Barrett accounted for all three Buckeye touchdowns—two rushing and one passing. He was responsible for 388 of Ohio State’s 411 yards of total offense.
Barrett completed 17-of-29 passes for 226 for one touchdown and one interception. He completed passes to eight different receivers. He also led all Ohio State rushers with 92 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.
If you want to get an idea of how unflappable Barrett is and how the team feeds off his demeanor, consider his interception in the end zone on Ohio State’s first drive of the second half. Barrett wasn’t deterred by his miscue. He came back and led the resolute Buckeyes to scores on four of their last five possessions, including his game-winning seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Noah Brown in overtime.
If anything, Barrett improved his Heisman Trophy chances because he went into another hostile environment at Camp Randall and led his team to victory.
Barrett doesn’t put up the monstrous numbers belonging to some of his contemporaries, but his most important stat is the won-loss column. He has just two losses during his three years as a starting quarterback…. and none on the road.
Indeed, this might be the centerpiece of Barrett’s legacy when his career is appraised in full: It is on his back — more than anyone else’s — that Urban Meyer has won 20 straight road games at Ohio State, one of the most remarkable feats in college football coaching, anywhere and anytime.
Barrett’s performance in the second half was definitely a benefit to the Ohio State defense, which was getting pushed up the field by the Badgers’ running game.
UW rolled up 236 yards on the ground Saturday night. Wisconsin was so consistent at one point that it scored on its final three possessions of the first half. Ohio State’s defense needed rest and refreshment in the second half, and that’s exactly what Barrett provided his teammates.
Barrett kept the chains moving in the passing game, the core element of OSU’s ball-control identity after halftime. After a lackluster passing performance in the Indiana game and in the first half against Wisconsin, Barrett completed 12-of-16 passes in the second half for 156 yards and one touchdown. That helped the Buckeyes keep the Wisconsin offense off the field.
The Buckeyes’ surge on offense flowed to a defense that held Wisconsin to 137 total yards in the second half, which was a far cry from the 313 yards the Badgers gained on them in the first half. The defense also got a crucial interception that set up the Buckeyes’ (first) go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter for a 20-16 lead.
There were times in the game when the Buckeyes — on both sides of the football — appeared to be hanging their heads in despair at Wisconsin’s early success. The only one who wasn’t fazed by the hostile crowd at Camp Randall was Barrett, who kept a poker face even when his team trailed by 10, and even when he failed to make an important play.
Perhaps the best description of Barrett’s performance against the Badgers, especially in the second half, came from Urban Meyer during his postgame interview with ESPN.
“He’s a soldier, a warrior and he’s a guy that fights through adversity. I knew at some point he was going to win the game for us like he has many, many times,” Meyer said.
The coach who has won 20 straight road games knows why that streak wasn’t stopped on Saturday night in Madison.
The reason wears No. 16.