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Ohio State Names J.T. Barrett Starting QB for Rutgers

Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has officially announced that redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett will be making his first start at quarterback this season for Saturday night’s contest at Rutgers, according to multiple reports.

Cardale Jones, the QB that had led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff championship during the last three games of the 2014 season, had been the starter since Week 1.

“J.T. has earned the right to start Saturday at Rutgers,” Meyer told reporters during the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference on Tuesday afternoon. Meyer also cited that it was a “difficult decision,” but knew that it was the right call based off both players’ performances against Penn State last weekend.

Jones, who was replaced by Barrett at halftime, went 9-of-15 (60.0 percent) for 84 yards and no touchdowns during Ohio State’s 38-10 win over the Nittany Lions, finishing with -16 rushing yards and a QBR of 26.5. Barrett, on the other hand, was exceptional in relief, providing the offense with a major spark; he completed 4-of-4 pass attempts for 30 yards and two touchdowns, adding 102 yards and two more scores on the ground on 11 carries (9.3 ypc).

“Just sheer production,” Meyer continued. “Cardale is going to be a very active part. Hopefully we’ll keep him very much involved. It was a difficult decision, but the red-zone production and third-down production were the two areas that made the difference. [Barrett] earned that with the way he played Saturday.”

Barrett had served mostly as a red zone threat through the first seven weeks of the season, as his 83.3 red zone completion percentage towered more than 50 percentage points higher than Jones’, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.

Aside from a solid opening performance against Virginia Tech in Week 1, Jones has played with inconsistency, averaging 177.4 yards per game with seven touchdowns, five interceptions, and a below-average QBR of 48.8 against a schedule that consisted of zero ranked opponents.

“There is disappointment,” Meyer said of the quarterbacks’ reaction to the decision, “but they’re grown men, both of them are.”

“Whether it’s doing what J.T. did as far as keeping and staying into the game, coaching J.T., I expect Cardale will be very similar in his role as J.T,” Meyer said. “Now, not necessarily in the red zone, we’ll make those decisions and see how he practices this week.”

Barrett went 11-1 (8-0) as Ohio State’s starting quarterback last season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against Michigan in the finale. During his college football debut — he was a redshirt freshman in 2014 — the Wichita Falls (TX) native completed 64.7 percent of his passes with 3,772 total yards of offense and a Big Ten single-season record 45 touchdowns (34 passing, 11 rushing).

Ohio State’s offense averaged 44.1 points per game with Barrett leading the charge in 2014 — including seven games of 49 points or more — and jumped from No. 22 in the AP Top 25 (following a Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech) all the way to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Rankings by Week 15.

Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) will put its 20-game winning streak on the line when it travels to Rutgers (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday for an expected 8 p.m. ET kickoff on ABC. Urban Meyer has not lost to a conference opponent during the regular season since joining the Buckeyes prior to the 2012 season.

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