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Ohio State's J.T. Barrett could have a shot at the Heisman

Though Lamar Jackson has the early vote on lock down, Barrett’s play could help him keep pace.

Rutgers v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

"It’s October, and so far it feels like the Heisman Trophy race is between two people: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett."

-Bill Landis,

Even with a loss to now-No. 3 Clemson Saturday, Louisville sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s Heisman hopes have never been higher. He threw for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown (with one pick) in addition to gaining 162 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on 31 carries against the Tigers. On the season, Jackson has thrown for 1625 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, with 688 yards and 14 more touchdowns on the ground. And while Jackson has split his premier matchup games with a win versus Florida State to balance the loss to Clemson, he has one more shot against sixth-ranked Houston for another signature win coming up in November.

Other contenders at this early stage include Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, Houston quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey, and while it seems unlikely that any of these players will be able to catch up to Jackson without Jackson himself falling off, Ohio State’s own J.T. Barrett may be in the best position to do so. Barrett has averaged a 68.8 completion percentage on the year, throwing for 14 touchdowns with two picks, and rushing for three more touchdowns. He may not have the exciting plays of Jackson, but there is little doubt as to his ability to score points, having just broken Bobby Hoying’s record for career passing touchdowns at Ohio State.

Perhaps Barrett’s biggest detriment is that the Ohio State offense is extremely balanced, relying on playmakers beyond Barrett to score. H back Curtis Samuel, for instance, who is considered by some a dark horse for this year’s Heisman, is No. 5 in yards from scrimmage in Division I, averaging 168.3 yards per game. And freshman running back Mike Weber, while certainly out of the Heisman talk, was Big Ten freshman of the week following an outstanding rushing performance against Rutgers.

"There’s some people on this team who have been personally affected by this, so it’s definitely an important matter but as of us taking a stand, it will be a team thing. And as a team, there wouldn’t be anybody who would decide differently."

-Ohio State junior forward Jae'Sean Tate, via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

In light of protests of the national anthem--especially in the NFL--to bring awareness to racial injustice in the U.S., Ohio State Buckeyes junior forward Jae’Sean Tate has said that whatever the Buckeyes do, including whether to protest or not to protest, will be decided as a team. Tate was the emotional leader of Ohio State last year on a team that missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, and which was plagued by a slew of transfers both during and after the season.

Tate says that he has an opinion on the subject of racial injustice, and that his coaching staff, including head coach Thad Matta, would be behind him should he choose to share it. And while Tate, at this point, has not made any direct comments on the subject, he has retweeted a number of relevant posts, which protest violence and demand equality. Especially given the shooting death of 13-year old Tyre Kind in September, Tate commented that the subject is something the entire team has been thinking about. He said that several team members have been personally affected by this problem, owing to the need to respond together as a team.

Tate and the Buckeyes are certainly not alone in college basketball in their views. Last week, Virginia point guard London Perrantes posted a photo of his entire team kneeling at half court, and encouraging others to use their platform "to help create change. TOGETHER."

Ohio State is scheduled to open its 2016-17 campaign against Navy in the 2016 Veteran’s Classic on Nov. 11, which falls on Veteran’s Day.

"Outside of the fact that we’re in this very strange year, I’m not seeing anything unusual. In fact, it’s probably remarkable that sports is holding up as well as it is."

-Artie Bulgrin, ESPN senior vice president of global research and analytics

With a massive drop off for many of the once-premier sporting events in the country, media executives are wondering where, exactly, did all of the viewers go? After years of growth, two of the NFL’s chief weekly games--Sunday Night Football on NBC and Monday Night Football on ESPN--have both taken double digit dips in viewership in the opening weeks of the season, shedding light on the fact that the issue is not isolated to either cable or broadcast alone.

While the presidential race has garnered significant attention, likely drawing viewers away from their respective sporting events (the First Presidential Debate took place during last week’s Monday Night Football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints), the trend has seemed to pervade most sports, and has included regular season games as well as major annual events.

Even the Summer Olympics were not exempt, with viewership down double digits compared to the 2012 London games. Sunday Night Baseball, NASCAR and UFC also experienced significant declines, as well as the finals for both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open tennis finals and the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Still, other sports--including NBA basketball, college football and the PGA Tour--experienced viewership increases this calendar year. And in 2015, 93 of the top-100 programs on television were live sporting events (compared to 14 in 2005).

Of course, the decrease in TV viewership does not necessarily mean that less people are watching sports, but perhaps that they are watching on different platforms. NBC’s total viewership for the Olympics, for example, combined both TV and online viewers, and viewers can watch Thursday Night Football directly through Twitter.

The Ohio State Buckeyes women’s volleyball team has Nebraska’s number, defeating the top-ranked Cornhuskers in Lincoln for the third consecutive time and snapping Nebraska’s 28-game win streak which had dated back to the 2015 season. The Huskers had been the only remaining undefeated team in Division I prior to the match. With the win, the 19th-ranked Buckeyes improve to 12-4 on the season, including 2-2 in the Big Ten, while Nebraska falls to 12-1.

Ohio State had previously won in Lincoln in 2012 and 2014, and the most recent victory was the fourth in the last five meetings between the two schools. The squad is now 4-3 all-time in

Lincoln, and the Buckeyes are the only Big Ten school without a losing record (4-4) versus Nebraska since the latter joined the conference in 2011. This win is also the first road win over a top-ranked team in school history. Coincidentally, Ohio State defeated No. 1 Minnesota 12 years ago to the date (Oct. 1, 2014) in four sets in Columbus.

After losing the first set 17-25, the Buckeyes rallied to win the next three 25-21, 25-21 and 25-13 behind strong performances from sophomore Taylor Hughes, who led the Buckeyes’ rally in the second set, and senior Taylor Sandbothe, who recorded 12 kills and two blocks in the match. Sandbothe is now second all-time at Ohio State in career blocks with 481. Junior Luisa Schirmer led the team with 16 kills on the day.

Next up, the Buckeyes are scheduled to play No. 18 Michigan State Friday evening before heading to Ann Arbor Sunday to face No. 22 Michigan. Ohio State is scheduled to once again play Nebraska at home Oct. 14.