A lot can change in a week. The Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t prove they belong in the national championship picture with their 38-7 victory Saturday over Army, but they did provide a feel-good moment for a player in need one of one.
J.T. Barrett threw touchdown passes and ran for another at Ohio Stadium. He has thrown 74 touchdown passes and rushed for 33 scores in 39 career games. No one in Big Ten Conference history has been responsible for more touchdowns.
Barrett passed Purdue’s Drew Brees, who produced 106 touchdowns in 45 games between 1997-2000. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told the team about the record in the locker room after the game.
“It is so freaking cool to have this guy here be a part of our team,” Meyer said in a video Ohio State shared on Twitter. “How about this? He’s the No. 1 touchdown maker in the history of the Big Ten Conference, and in case you’re wondering, the Big Ten has been around a long time. There’s been some really good players.”
Meyer handed a football to Barrett, who gave a short speech.
“Total team game,” Barrett said. “Appreciate all the offensive linemen, receivers doing their job, running backs doing their job, defense holding it down. I can tell you this: when I came here from Wichita Falls (Texas), I didn’t think I’d be talking to you like this.”
The Texas native Barrett delayed any more discussions about whether he should lose his starting job, though his backup, Dwayne Haskins, did make his college debut in the fourth quarter and completed 4 of 4 passes for 46 yards.
While Barrett’s performance Saturday doesn’t erase the fact that he has under-performed against the three most recent top-10 teams he has seen — Michigan, Clemson and Oklahoma — it does give him more time to get in rhythm for the Big Ten games ahead. Ohio State (2-1) closes its non-conference schedule with a noon game Saturday against UNLV (1-1) and then plays seven conference games.
“It’s a long journey back to where we want to be,” Barrett said. “We’re going to take it one step at a time, as players and coaches, so let’s focus on that.”
In his post-game press conference, Meyer said Barrett has the heart of a lion and is one of the toughest players he’s been around. Those are pretty good “characteristics to have with a guy touching the ball every snap,” Meyer said.
Barrett completed 25 of 33 passes for 270 yards. He overthrew receivers on a couple of deep passes and still recorded one of the best completion percentages of his career (75.8).
The last time Barrett threw 30 or more passes and completed better than 75 percent of his passes was the third game of his career against Kent State (23 of 30, 76.7). That performance followed Ohio State’s 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech.
Whether it was three years ago or last week, Barrett has shown an ability to bounce back from his lowest moments and to tune out the criticism.
“I think people have the right to their opinion,” Barrett said. “Some of that’s part of our great country and freedom of speech, but they don’t really know the inner workings that are involved with every single game plan, every single game, even going down to every single play.”