Some may say that Ohio State had a real gripe about not being selected to the College Football Playoff this season. Whether the Buckeyes believed they were snubbed or not, they certainly took out any frustration on USC in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
Ohio State used a dominating night on defense and just enough offense to beat the Trojans 24-7. Four turnovers were forced by the Buckeyes defense, resulting in a pick six and a huge shift in momentum late in the game too.
The win sends quarterback J.T. Barrett out on a high note, but it wasn’t his best effort on the field. He had just 114 yards passing and no touchdowns, while also putting up a Buckeyes-best 66 yards on the ground as well.
Luckily those 66 yards were enough to find the end zone twice in the first half for OSU.
Barrett got the Buckeyes on the board on their first possession and then put the Buckeyes up 24-0 on a 28-yard run late in the second quarter. However, it appeared momentum was shifting late in the half as Ronald Jones II put the ball over the goal line with just 1:29 to play in the first half.
That was it for the scoring though and it was a massive defensive message to the critics of the Buckeyes.
It all added up to the Big Ten coming away from a loaded day of action with a 5-0 record. Not only did the Buckeyes win, but so did Northwestern to help the Big Ten continue its banner bowl game start.
J.T. Barrett Continued to be Legendary
Few players in the history of Ohio State football have had the career that quarterback J.T. Barrett has had. Yet, it feels strange to say his career has been legendary. Maybe its the fact that he missed out on a Big Ten and national championship in 2015? Maybe it’s the fact that it somehow took until his senior season to win a Big Ten title as the quarterback?
Whatever it was, Barrett’s career just seemed incomplete. But, on Friday night Barrett added to his collegiate legend, setting the Big Ten’s total yards record that was previously held by some guy named Drew Brees.
There’s little doubt that Barrett is going to be remembered in Columbus for some time. Most importantly, Barrett was able to complete a post-season with a Big Ten championship and a win in a New Year’s Six game.
38 wins – 6 losses
Beat TTUN 4x
Penn State 3x
Mich. State 3x
Saved 2014 🏆💍
B1G QBOTY 3x
2016 B1G MVP
2 CFP Berths
2015 Fiesta Bowl MVP
12 OSU Records
5 Big Ten Records pic.twitter.com/P0bEwVMCrU
— Boo Jackson (@JP_Flash25) December 30, 2017
Not a bad way to go out in your college career.
Defense Got Turnover Happy
Ohio State showed it had a really good defense down the stretch run of the regular season, but it seemed to finally all come together in the Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes forced USC quarterback and talked-about No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Sam Darnold, to look rather average at best.
Part of Darnold’s issue came in the form of turnovers. Well, Darnold and USC in general, as the Trojans gave up the ball via turnover a whopping four times.
The last of which came as Darnold got hit from behind and let the ball fall right in to the waiting arms of an OSU defensive lineman.
Another look at the Holmes forced fumble and Big Bob Landers scoop pic.twitter.com/fTByundLql
— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) December 30, 2017
It all added up to a USC offense that came in averaging 35 points per game being completely shutdown.
Let’s just say it was a great time for OSU to give its best defensive performance of the season too.
Ohio State’s Offensive Performance
While a 24-7 scoreline would seem flattering, Ohio State’s offense really did minimal work on Friday night.
The Buckeyes amassed just 277 yards on 55 plays in the game, including just 114 yards in the passing game. Barrett getting a win in his final game was nice, but his passing game wasn’t. Barrett finished the game 11 of 17 passing for just 114 yards and no touchdowns.
Even more telling? The dynamic duo of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber was held to just 57 yards combined.
Given the domination of the defense all of this seems to be a bit nit-picky, but it should also be worrisome because this offense was up and down all 2017.
What it Means for 2018
It’s hard to say that this one game was make or break for any Ohio State players and their NFL draft status, but that is really the key from this game. Did Sam Hubbard’s great night make his decision easier? How many other guys will take off after this game?
Ultimately that is what is going to matter most heading in to the 2018 offseason.
However, what we can take away from the Cotton Bowl is the fact that the Buckeyes need some real work on the offensive side of the ball. Some of it is just simply growing up for young players, but we also saw what we saw most of this year in the pass game for OSU — there aren’t a lot of receiving options.
That group has got to regroup in a major way or the Buckeyes won’t be going anywhere but backwards on offense in 2018.
Dwayne Haskins is a better pure passer than J.T. Barrett, but it may not matter if no one can get open. Sure, you can give credit to the Trojans secondary, but the Buckeyes receivers did nothing to help themselves either.
Report: OSU to suspend Urban Meyer
The Ohio State University board of trustees have been verbally read in on the findings of a 14-day investigation in to the conduct of football head coach Urban Meyer.
So, what will happen next?
According to the Columbus Dispatch, it appears a suspension or even lighter punishment is coming for Meyer:
“Two sources connected to the investigation said the likely recommendation to university President Michael V. Drake is a suspension for Meyer. Drake and the board could also opt for a ‘time served’ punishment since Meyer has been removed from football activities for more than two weeks.”
Meyer has already been on suspension (or paid administrative leave) for the better part the month of August.
The meeting on Monday was able to take place because it was an “informational meeting” and no public business was conducted. However, there is a meeting scheduled for 9a.m. on Wednesday to discuss just what punishment would be recommended.
Ultimately it will be the university president that makes the final decision, but the board of trustees will meet to send their recommendation to President Michael V. Drake, who is likely to adhere to the recommendation of the board.
Early national signing day not kind to Buckeyes No. 1 hopes
Buckeyes have a great 2018 recruiting class, but what should’ve been a great early signing period celebration turned no fun quickly.
Urban Meyer was an outspoken critic of the December early signing period for college football. We’re guessing after the opening day of the 72-hour signing period he’s even less of a fan.
Ohio State was riding high early on in the day, as it appeared they were heading for the No. 1 spot in the 247Sports team rankings.
The day started off with the Buckeyes on top of the rankings, and it only got better as 4-star wide receiver Cameron Brown flipped from Nebraska to OSU.
But, that’s pretty much where the fun stopped for the Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer.
The celebratory mode quickly went somber with the news that 4-star quarterback Emory Jones was pulling out of his verbal commitment to Ohio State. Instead, he would be signing with Florida and leaving the Buckeyes without a major quarterback commit in the class.
OSU then lost out on just about every prospect that was making a decision with Ohio State involved too.
Yet, it took until late Wednesday night for it to all fall apart. That’s because 5-star safety Jaiden Woodbery took his verbal pledge away from the Buckeyes and became the biggest commit for Willie Taggart’s start at Florida State.
That was the final straw for the Buckeyes tenuous hold on the No. 1 spot, as Georgia’s big day and the Buckeyes losses combined to put the Bulldogs on top.
It’s left a lot of people wondering why, considering Ohio State has been in the mix for the national championship for the entirety of the College Football Playoff era.
Head coach Urban Meyer seemed to have a quick answer when he met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.
Meyer spent most of his time railing against the balancing act needed to be done for his roster. On the one hand there are still NFL decisions to be made, on the other there is a national signing day to focus on.
“What I’ve had happen to me is I’ve talked to several players, and my answer to them — because we’re straightforward with them — is that I don’t know if I have a scholarship right now because I don’t know who’s leaving for the NFL Draft,” said Meyer, via Bucknuts. “A couple times, more than a couple, I got a comment back saying, ‘Coach, this school is telling me if I don’t sign on (December) 20th, I’m out. They’re taking my scholarship offer.'”
Clearly that has irked Meyer, who was no fan of this move to begin with.
But, it points out a unique situation for the Buckeyes, who along with teams like Alabama, Clemson and a few other select programs have a lot more fluctuation in a roster due to numerous NFL early entrant decisions.
For the rest of the college football world, early entrants aren’t really a thought or they are easily identifiable as the process goes on.
It means the Buckeyes head coach must keep a list of players who could leave in the back of his mind, yet still not know exactly who will or won’t be back. That leaves him guessing as to the real number of players that could be added to a class.
When you’re in the running for the No. 1 class in the country like Ohio State was and still is, the timeframe moving up isn’t the best thing in the world. At least that seems to be the early return on the 3-day period that began on Wednesday morning.
Meyer certainly isn’t going to be shy in sharing his thoughts and learning from others in the coaching game.
“I don’t know right now,” he said. “I’m anxious to go to the head coaches’ meetings and listen. Do I think it’s all negative? I was really dead-set against it. I’m looking at this (list of signees) right here, dead set against what? That’s unbelievable. But I think there’s going to be some very good dialogue, and I want to listen.”
We’re guessing Meyer is going to put his two cents in toward eliminating the early signing period or completely blowing up the system as we know it.
What’s happening after day one of the first early singing period certainly showed this change may not be good for the Buckeyes. It also showed there is going to be some work ahead of him for the 2018 recruiting cycle unlike some other coaches.
That also means the Buckeyes and other “brand name” programs are going to have to stretch the recruiting efforts thinner than others. While many programs will be done by Frida and off to the races on the 2019 class in earnest, OSU likely won’t be so lucky.
With NFL decisions looming and roster spots either going unfilled or filled by players the Buckeyes wouldn’t normally be recruiting, what happens on February’s singing day should be very interesting.
To that end, names like DE Jayson Oweh, DE Tyreke Smith, DL Tyler Friday, OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT Rasheed Walker, LB Solomon Tuliaupupu, are all ones that OSU is in the mix for according to Bucknuts.
What seems like a problem today, could end with a very happy Urban Meyer and all this hand-wringing was for not.
But, what should’ve been a celebration of the No. 1 class in the country turned pretty sour by the end of the day and that is what matters most right now.
J.T. Barrett finally gets elusive Big Ten title
J.T. Barrett finally got his Big Ten championship on the field, and he had a big hand it getting the title.
For all the accolades and awards Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett has one, there are a pair of elusive things on his list. After Saturday night’s 27-21 win over the No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers, one of those things can be crossed off his list — Big Ten champion.
The last time the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title, Barrett was on the sideline on crutches following an injury the week before against Michigan. He played witness to Cardale Jones coming in and whopping up on the Badgers 59-0.
With the ball in his hand, Barrett wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip between his fingers.
Yeah, so I was saying to myself last time I got us to the party but I wasn’t let in,” Barrett said following the Big Ten title win. “So this time there’s opportunity for me to go play in this game, I was going to do whatever it takes to go out there and play with my brothers knowing that it’s my senior year.
“This was one of the reasons why I came back, to play in big-time games like this. With the opportunity to go do that — with the Lord, it was going to be right. With God, everything was going to be all right. That was in my head.
“So with that, just didn’t stress about, didn’t worry about it. Just did what I could as far as rehabbing my knee and reducing the swelling. And I knew, just put it in God’s hands and not worry about anything.”
Barrett had his hand in almost every score of the game, passing for a pair of touchdowns and rushing for a third en route to 21 of the Buckeyes’ 27 points.
He finished the game just 12 of 26 with two interceptions as a passer. But, he also had a pair of big touchdown passes including an 83-yard effort to Terry McLaughlin to get the Buckeyes on the board.
After throwing a pick-six, Barrett came back and tossed a wide receiver screen to Parris Campbell for a 57-yard touchdown.
But, Barrett’s biggest work came on the ground in short-yardage situations. He had 60 yards on 19 carries and put the Buckeyes up by 21-7 with 11:10 to play in the second quarter. His running turned in to big plays late as he was able to push piles and get just enough to keep critical drives alive.
Simply put, Barrett wasn’t going to be denied. Whether it was arthroscopic knee surgery six days ago or on the field against the nation’s No. 1 ranked defense.
The win wasn’t just his first Big Ten championship as a player on the field, it also gave Barrett the most career wins in a Buckeye uniform. OSU’s win in the Big Ten title game was his 37th career win as a starter, breaking the record set by Art Schlichter (1978-1981).
It’s all cause for celebration, at least for now. That’s because everyone’s attention will turn to Sunday morning and the College Football Playoff.
Can Barrett also check the second big thing off his list? You know, a national championship?
That won’t be up to him, but the win on Saturday night certainly will give the College Football Playoff committee something to think about.
There’s little question for the guy who has just one thing left to accomplish as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. Barrett isn’t afraid to do a little lobbying to make that College Football Playoff thing happen either.
J.T. Barrett on why Ohio State deserves to go to the playoffs: "I feel we're one of the best teams in the country."
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2017
“I think our resumé speaks for itself,” said Barrett. “I think — I mean we put ourselves in a good position of being the conference champions. Also the wins we had, the big-time wins and all the other stuff they consider.
“But I don’t know, I think we did what we were supposed to do. And that was today go beat the No. 4 team in the country in Wisconsin and be the Big Ten champs.”
Ohio State Makes Its Case For A Playoff Appearance – Beats Wisconsin For The Big Ten Championship
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 outside the Top Ten 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.
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 are no other Top 25 wins on the resume now that Fresno State went down, 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.
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.
Phil Harrison is a contributor to Talking10.com. He is also the Featured Big Ten Writer for CollegeFootballNews.com. Follow him