When news broke that J.T. Barrett underwent surgery on Monday after getting injured on the sideline last Saturday in The Game by a cameraman, the first thought was that there’s no way he’s going to play.
Barrett somehow, someway got some miracle treatment from the Ohio State training staff and wobbled his way onto the field in Lucas Oil Stadium as the starting quarterback in 2017’s version of the Big Ten Championship Game. After just six days with his date with a surgeon.
The Game at Hand
His play was understandably as mixed as noodle casserole, but he made just enough plays to will Ohio State to victory over an undefeated and No. 4 ranked Wisconsin Badger team that was looking to hoist the trophy and punch its own ticket to its first ever playoff.
Early on it looked like no contest. Ohio State’s speed on the outside looked to be too much for a stout Wisconsin defense. Both Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell did some work after the catch with two long touchdown passes of 84 yards and 77 yards.
J.T. Barrett to Terry McLaurin for 84 yards to open scoring against the nation's No. 1 defense… just as we all drew it up. pic.twitter.com/CkZKs6mJqC
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2017
And it wasn’t just in the passing game either. OSU freshman J.K. Dobbins gashed the top rated Wisconsin defense for 174 yards on just 17 carries (10.2 avg.). It was inevitably a game of big plays for Ohio State as it racked up 449 yards against a defense that normally averages giving up just over 230 per game.
A glaring wart for OSU though has continued to be mistakes. Once again, it almost cost the Buckeyes the game, and more than anything, kept the Badgers in the game. Barrett threw two interceptions — one for a pick six — and Mike Weber lost one on the turf. There were also some costly turnovers that either sustained Wisconsin drives, or hamstrung further scoring for the OSU offense.
— BIG ED (@NYCKING) December 3, 2017
It is a story to the season that could make Ohio State look foolish further down the road if it doesn’t find some way to improve the discipline in all areas.
Let the Debate Begin
FOX analysts all think Ohio State belongs in the CFP. CBS analysts are all convinced Alabama deserves the spot. Both coincidences, I’m sure.
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) December 3, 2017
Speaking of the Scarlet and Gray’s next hurdle, the waiting game now begins. Ohio State will undoubtedly be compared to Alabama for the fourth and final spot. It appears for all the world that Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma are locks.
USC will scream for inclusion, but it’s unlikely the Trojans will come from No. 10 all the way up to have a real shot. That means it all comes down to ‘Bama and Ohio State — two mainstays in the early history of this whole playoff thing.
Ohio State can boast about two wins over top ten teams, and three against top fifteen with Michigan State thrown in there, but my, oh my those ugly losses against Oklahoma at home, and an unranked Iowa team on the road. Neither game was close. On another positive note, the Buckeyes do have a conference championship, something Alabama doesn’t have.
This notion that Alabama is equal to last year's Ohio State is just false. OSU beat Oklahoma and a very good Michigan team. Bama has no signature win.
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) December 3, 2017
So what about the Tide? Yeah, it has looked dominant for most of the year, but the schedule has been lighter than a grocery bag full of feathers. It’s best win? Yep, it was against a top twenty team LSU. That’s it.
There may not be any other Top 25 wins on the resume either now that Fresno State went down (we’ll have to wait and see about Mississippi State), and there isn’t a conference championship to tote into the CFP committee’s room. But, it does have just one loss, and has the mystique that goes along with being Alabama.
We Can Only Wait
Let the arguing, teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing commence in earnest in Tuscaloosa and Columbus.
But let’s Ohio State enjoy this one for just a night. This is a talented team, and when it’s limiting mistakes and playing to its potential, it can hang with — and beat — anyone in the country.
It might just get yet another shot to show everyone. Oh to be a fly on the wall in Grapevine, Texas right about now.
Phil Harrison is a contributor to Talking10.com. He is also the Featured Big Ten Writer for CollegeFootballNews.com. Follow him