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J.T. Barrett had his career-defining game against Penn State

The three-time captain saved his best performance for the biggest game of the season.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong for Ohio State against Penn State, went wrong. (At least in the early going.)

They started in a 7-0 hole when Saquon Barkley took the opening kickoff for a score. Then they went down 14-0 after a Penn State defender jarred the ball loose from Parris Campbell — who then suffered a game-ending injury on a kickoff. The Buckeyes then fell behind 28-10 after a borderline criminal pass interference call on Damon Arnette, which wiped out a Malik Hooker-esque interception by Damon Webb in the end zone.

All of this adversity set up J.T. Barrett for the greatest performance of his collegiate career.

J.T. Barrett Passing Chart vs Penn State

Designed Runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrows Throwaways
Designed Runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions Total TD Scrambles Overthrows Throwaways
12 47 33 6 4 3 0 1
Pressured Sacked Hit PBU Batted at LOS Drops Turnovers Defensive PI
6 2 3 1 0 2 1 3
  • Before getting to Barrett, let’s start off with the offensive line. In last year’s debacle against Penn State, I charted 26 pressures, seven hits and six sacks on Barrett — including 19 by Isaiah Prince. This year? Barrett was only pressured six times, hit three times and sacked twice. The offense line gave Barrett time in the pocket and made him comfortable on just about every dropback. Incredible effort by this offensive line against a very good front seven. They do need to cut back on the false starts though.
  • Not to mention, they opened up holes all day for JK Dobbins and Mike Weber.
  • Speaking of Dobbins... He dominated the first quarter before sitting out the entire second quarter. He returned on the first drive after halftime when the Buckeyes cut the lead to 11. My theory? Weber is an elite and if not the best pass blocker in the country, and Kevin Wilson had to throw the ball a bunch when they were trailing by three scores in the second quarter. Dobbins is the more dynamic runner, but the game flow and situation didn’t fit the freshman’s strengths.
  • As he always is, Barrett was tremendous in the zone read. With Penn State crashing hard on the running back, he made a handful of great decisions to keep the football. Before this game, Barrett was handing the ball off and looked a little clunky as a runner. Against the Nittany Lions, he looked like the old Barrett with the ball in his hands.
  • One major negative was the fumble in the fourth quarter that could have ended the game. It looks like it was an RPO, with Barrett looking at KJ Hill wide open at the last second. In hindsight, he should have just handed it off. But, Hill had a ton of space on the perimeter and could have scored if he got one block on the corner. Fox had a great view of Barrett looking at Hill as he pulled the ball away from the runner.
  • The lack of a pass interference or facemask call on Barrett’s pass attempt to Hill in the end zone was mind-boggling. A touchdown there would have cut the deficit to four right out of halftime. It seems like Penn State got every major call in this game.
  • On the second to last drive, Barrett threw two incredible balls in traffic. How wasn’t this picked off?! It shows the confidence that Barrett has in his arm to make any throw on the field.
  • The best throw of J.T. Barrett’s career came on the final drive. Facing a second-and-eight, Penn State brought extra pressure. Weber took care of the initial rusher, leaving one untouched.
  • If you asked me a few weeks ago what would happen in this exact situation, I would have said Barrett would take the sack or attempt to scramble. Terry McLaurin is not open yet and his he’s facing tight man-coverage. Instead, Barrett trusts his receiver to be open at his break, and throws him open.
  • Barrett stands in the pocket, takes the hit and delivers a strike to McLaurin. If you didn’t get goosebumps watching this throw, we can’t be friends.
  • We all know what happened after that throw. Barrett’s performance was easily the best of his career, and most importantly it came on the biggest stage. Everything was stacked against him and he fought through adversity to complete a monumental comeback. The trust he has in himself and his teammates is at an all-time high, and it showed on just about every throw he made. Barrett completed multiple NFL-level throws to beat Penn State and he put his team in the driver’s seat for a shot at a national title.