“He said ‘the H word,’ so I'm going to say the same thing, that H word. I don't really focus on it. Next week we've got to go beat Iowa. That's what I'll go focus on.”
If there was ever a better time for J.T. Barrett to prove his worth as one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history, playing at home against an undefeated, second-ranked Penn State team was it. Barrett led the Buckeyes to a monstrous win, and now has Ohio State back in the thick of the College Football Playoff race. That’s not all Barrett’s performance accomplished, however. The senior quarterback has now thrust himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion and has a pretty decent chance of winning it, depending on how the rest of the season goes. Not bad for someone who was being called to be replaced by many Buckeye fans.
Against the Nittany Lions, Barrett went 33-of-39 passing for 328 yards, 95 rushing yards, and four touchdowns. He went 13-of-13 in the fourth quarter with his team down and found Johnnie Dixon twice and Marcus Baugh for the game winner. His performance was an all-time great and will likely be remembered for years to come. On the season, Barrett has thrown for 2,166 yards on 171-of-246 (good enough for 69.5 percent) and 25 touchdowns to just one interception. The Heisman is not out of reach, and the Buckeyes are still in the hunt for the playoffs, thanks to Barrett.
“I don't know. I'm not micromanaging that right now. I trust them both. (Dobbins) still had 88 yards and however many carries. We're throwing the ball so darn well right now, too. So once again, I don't micromanage. That's Kevin Wilson, and that's for Tony Alford to determine. They're both practicing very hard. You'd like to get them more carries.”
Despite everything working out at the end of the Penn State game, there were some questions about some of the coaching decisions during the course of the contest. Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins seemed to have his way with the Nittany Lions defense for much of the first quarter but didn’t see the ball at all in the second quarter. Mike Weber received those carries and it seemed to be that Dobbins was either forgotten about or hurt - it was hard to tell which. Dobbins did finish with 88 yards, but 50 of those came in the first quarter. In hindsight, it seems as though the coaches were going with a split between the two, as Weber played all 18 snaps in the second quarter. Dobbins was in for most of the third quarter and Weber dominated the fourth.
The tandem in the backfield has been more of a blessing than a curse for the Buckeyes, but it’s interesting to see the coaching staff trying to figure out the best way to keep both players involved. There’s no question that both are talented, and though Dobbins probably has the edge this season, Weber is still an impressive back. Ohio State’s next game comes at Iowa and there will sure to be more insight into what the staff wants to do with the two great running backs.
“We've talked about it. It would be a great thing for our program and this community. I don't want it at the forefront of what we do and talk about on a daily basis, but it is a reminder and kind of a backdrop type of thing, in terms of motivation.”
Ohio State women’s basketball is also competing for championships thanks to a solid squad led by all-everything Kelsey Mitchell. The Buckeyes made it to the Sweet 16 last season but arguably had the talent to go even further, and that’s exactly what they plan to do this season — except there’s an added bonus this time around. The Women’s Final Four will be hosted in Columbus this year, meaning if the Buckeyes can get to those coveted last four spots in the NCAA tournament, they’ll be playing at home.
If the Buckeyes manage it, it will also mark the 25th anniversary of the last time Ohio State made the Final Four in 1993. That team was also led by a high-scoring guard in Katie Smith as a freshman. The Buckeyes were eventually knocked out 84-82 by Texas Tech and Sheryl Swoopes (who scored 47 points) in the Final Four. Still, the women’s basketball team is something to watch this season in Mitchell’s last go-around with the Buckeyes. And she’s looking to end her career in Scarlet and Gray on a high note.