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Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett scampered to an Ohio State victory over Michigan

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Despite an up-and-down performance from the offense, the quarterback’s legs won them the football game.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty. J.T. Barrett had a roller coaster of a football game with the highest of highs and lowest of lows, but it was enough to defeat the No. 2 scoring defense in the country.

The offense looked to be in complete disarray throughout the afternoon, with an handful of three-and-outs and an anemic passing game. Although Barrett’s numbers were not up to par, his supporting cast did not help him out. The offensive line got worked by one of the best defensive lines in the country and the receivers continued to be non-existent against a legitimate secondary.

Let’s get to the tape:

J.T. Barrett passing chart vs Michigan

Designed runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrows Throwaways
15 46 13 17 1 7 4 2
Pressured Sacked Hit Pass break-up Batted at LOS Drops Turnovers DPI/Holding
18 8 4 2 3 2 1 2

Since the Penn State offensive line debacle, there was great improvement across the board. Unfortunately, it looks like the improvement was based on their superior talent over Northwestern, Nebraska, Maryland and Michigan State. In those four games, the offensive line allowed only 22 total pressures and five sacks. In the two games versus Penn State and Michigan — two of the better defenses in the conference — the offensive line has been terrible. They allowed a combined 44 pressures and 14 sacks against those two squads. A potential matchup with Alabama’s ferocious defensive line should give Barrett nightmares.

Not only was the offensive line play subpar, but the receivers just cannot gain separation against real secondaries. The few times Barrett was able to get time, he sat in the pocket waiting for a member of #Zone6 to get open, and he was either forced to throw the ball away or tuck and scramble. The wideouts have been consistently inconsistent throughout the season and it will only be more apparent against the better secondaries in potential College Football Playoff matchups. It’s a giant mystery as to why this unit has regressed since last season — and it’s tough to see why without All-22 access. It’s definitely not a talent issue and receiver coach Zach Smith has quite the Ohio State to NFL resume since he’s been in Columbus. It’s tough to imagine an improvement in this department before the season concludes, so it’s best to hope that this group does not cost them a chance at winning a national title.

Although it looked like the Wolverine defense was gassed in the fourth quarter — which allowed Barrett to find open receivers -- the game was won on his legs. They designed 15 runs for him, which is about the average this season and he was forced to scramble on seven dropbacks. If the sack yardage was subtracted from Barrett’s total rushing yardage, he would have rushed for 157 yards on 22 carries — which is excellent. Besides the 4th-and-1 conversion, Barrett’s best play came on his 41-yard scamper that set up a potential game tying field goal.

If they were able to convert on this drive, this play would have gone down in Ohio State- Michigan history:

Before the snap, Jabrill Peppers and the free safety had massive confusion. It looks as though Michigan wanted Peppers’ athleticism at free safety when Ohio State went to an empty set — which usually results in a designed quarterback draw. Michigan left the middle of the field wide open, which is an automatic run check for Barrett.

Barrett hesitates, while the receivers do a good job of selling their pass routes. Barrett then tucks the football and follows Pat Elflein -- who only has Peppers to block.

Elflein gets a hand on Peppers and Barrett cuts to the right of the Michigan defender. He throws a stiff arm on Peppers and continues to out run Michigan’s most elite athlete for 30-plus yards.

Barrett finally gets shoved out of bounds at Michigan’s 20 — which should have led to a game tying field goal and an eventual regulation victory. The tempo and Barrett’s awareness set up this fantastic play that took advantage of a tired and confused Michigan defense.

Even with the offensive line and wide receiver struggles, the combination of Mike Weber’s ability to move the chains in short yardage, Curtis Samuel’s big play ability and Barrett’s smarts will always give Ohio State a chance to win any game they’re in. Hopefully they get a chance to prove themselves in the playoff.