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A closer look: J.T. Barrett rarely disappoints in big games. He loses even less.

The fifth-year senior is a lot better than you think against top talent.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State
J.T. Barrett
Aaron Doster

When the lights are brightest, the best come to play.

And the best came out when Penn State squared off with Ohio State last Saturday.

Heisman favorite Saquon Barkley continued his incredible season, tallying a pair of scores, including his opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Trace McSorley totaled 241 yards and three touchdowns.

On the opposite sideline, the Buckeyes saw K.J. Hill explode for 12 receptions and 102 yards. Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon also made some huge plays, and Sam Hubbard didn’t care how many guys he had to tackle to win the day.

The stars were out in full force in Columbus.

But it was Joe Thomas Barrett IV that stole the show.

J.T. Barrett was money all evening long, leading the Scarlet and Gray to a historic 39-38 comeback victory. In his most efficient game to date, Barrett completed 33 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. He added another 95 yards on the ground.

With the Buckeyes’ season hanging in the balance, the fifth-year senior went 13-for-13 in the final quarter for 170 yards and three TDs.

It was a virtuoso performance from a quarterback that’s been a lightning rod for criticism over the past few seasons. Barrett shed the narrative that he can’t win big games and vaulted himself to the top of the Heisman discussion.

Despite the narrative, Barrett has proven throughout his career that he responds when the Buckeyes need him at his best.

His outing against Penn State is just the latest example of him answering the call for Ohio State.

Here’s a look at how he’s fared in big moments facing top-ranked teams.

J.T. Barrett in Big Games

Year Opponent Result Passing Yards Completion % Interceptions Rushing Yards Total Touchdowns Adjusted QBR
Year Opponent Result Passing Yards Completion % Interceptions Rushing Yards Total Touchdowns Adjusted QBR
2014 at Michigan State W, 49-37 300 61.5 0 86 5 99.2
2014 Michigan W, 42-28 176 61.9 0 89 3 95.9
2015 Michigan State L, 17-14 46 56.3 0 44 1 33.5
2015 at Michigan W, 42-13 113 60 0 139 4 95.9
2015 Notre Dame W, 44-28 211 61.3 1 96 2 62.8
2016 at Oklahoma W, 45-24 152 70 0 74 4 86.1
2016 at Wisconsin W, 30-23 226 58.6 1 92 3 90.4
2016 at Penn State L, 24-21 245 65.1 0 26 1 61.8
2016 at Michigan State W, 17-16 86 45.5 0 105 1 40
2016 Michigan W, 30-27 124 72 1 125 1 72
2016 Clemson L, 31-0 127 57.6 2 -2 0 46.1
2017 Oklahoma L, 31-16 183 54.3 1 66 0 21.5
2017 Penn State W, 39-38 328 84.6 0 95 4 89.4

It’s obvious that things haven’t always worked out for Barrett. Especially in recent contests, where very little has gone his way.

More often than not, though, Barrett shows up.

No. 16 has recorded an adjusted QBR of at least 86, six times now. Whether he’s doing it with his arm or legs, Barrett continues to produce with both. Even if he’s having an off day, don’t expect any free turnovers from him.

And in the 14 career games listed above, the Barrett-led Buckeyes have only lost four times.

With Penn State in town, the Texas native was otherworldly.

Barrett stunned just about everyone watching when he shredded then-No. 2 ranked Penn State, who entered play with the No. 1 scoring defense and No. 9 total defense.

He had a tremendous game and deserves praise for his performance.

But this isn’t entirely new territory for him.

Barrett has shown to be effective in important spots for Ohio State. From Oklahoma and Wisconsin in 2016, to the time he walked into East Lansing, Mich., as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and steamrolled Michigan State.

At the end of the day, a narrative has been put to bed and critics are finally silent.

All because Barrett went out and did what he does best.