J.T. Barrett Defines Legacy with Late Touchdowns Against Penn State

J.T. Barrett Marcus Baugh

The moment never became too much for J.T. Barrett.

Draped in an oversized coat, Barrett grabbed his headset as he took a seat on the bench following a touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon that cut Ohio State’s deficit to 38-33 with four minutes and 14 seconds showing on the clock.

As he was listening to instructions from offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, his teammates were standing and trying to raise the decibels level in the stadium, for the Ohio State defense needed a stop for Barrett’s chance to save the season. After Penn State went three-and-out, Barrett took off his coat and headset, and received handshakes and pats on his shoulder pads from backup quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins as he was making an entrance to the drive that would define his legacy to this point.

Beginning on his own 42-yard line, Barrett completed four consecutive passes before the fateful 16-yard touchdown strike to tight end Marcus Baugh that lifted Ohio State ahead 39-38 with 1:45 remaining.

It was the 94th touchdown pass of Barrett’s career, but it will be the one that will manifest his legacy as one of the all-time greats at Ohio State.

Barrett was calm in a setting of utter chaos and tension.

“This is one of the best [games] I’ve ever seen a quarterback play,” head coach Urban Meyer said.

On Penn State’s final possession, Barrett didn’t put on his jacket, numb to the near-freezing temperatures, euphoric from his play and holding the lead for the first time all game. After a sack by Jalyn Holmes, Penn State coach James Franklin called a timeout facing a third-and-15. Barrett sprinted from the sideline into the huddle exemplifying the leadership Meyer has raved about for the better part of three seasons.

Barrett had one message for the defense: “Let’s go win the game.”

“I mean, that was going through my head the entire game, was you have to go win the game,” Barrett said.

In the Buckeyes’ seemingly improbable comeback victory against the reigning Big Ten champion, Barrett completed his final 16 passes Saturday — another school record. He completed 33-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. It was the type of performance that legitimizes a player’s candidacy for the Heisman Trophy.

The Heisman would be another accolade in Barrett’s trophy case, but there’s a spot in that case that still has the possibility of being occupied: a national championship.

Barrett’s late-game heroics preserved Ohio State’s shot at a spot in the College Football Playoff and propelled his team to the driver’s seat of representing the East Division in the Big Ten Championship Game in December. But all of that almost slipped away from Barrett on a botched hand-off that gave Penn State the ball with 13:13 to play and the Nittany Lions leading 35-20.

Barrett was on his hands and knees in disbelief that he might have given away the game that would define his legacy win or lose.

When given another shot from cornerback Denzel Ward’s blocked punt, Barrett didn’t miss his mark.

On the second play after the blocked punt, Barrett delivered a pass to Dixon 20 yards downfield where Dixon did the rest on a momentous 38-yard touchdown pass. Barrett’s final two touchdown drives were five plays, 76 yards in one minute 17 seconds; and five plays, 57 yards in one minute and 19 seconds.

The final pass to Baugh — called 817 Y-Seam Lookback, which Barrett said was put into the playbook Wednesday — will be remembered as the time Barrett best showed his capability to perform at the highest stage with immense poise when Ohio State needs him to do so.

The quarterback, who was deemed unfit to play against college football’s elite by many critics outside the program, picked apart the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense for 39 points and three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“I’ve seen it ever since he’s been playing for us,” Meyer said. “I heard about this J.T. Barrett guy, and he came on as a redshirt freshman. And he wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t this or that. But he’s tough as a lion and he has an incredible skill to lead others.”

As Barrett watched Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley’s final pass fall incomplete and euphoria set in around the stadium, he didn’t celebrate. He picked up his helmet without saying a word and went back on the field to finish the game that he started — a game that was never greater than him.

14 Responses

  1. Great article, Jacob. Nice recap

    as special teams coach, Just wanted to get your attention with my headline, but honestly we need a special team coach who can travel the world and find a kicker who can kick the ball to the back of the end zone. It is not a hard concept. I stated special teams was a problem that could cost us this game in a post before the game and QB play will decide this game.

    Everything Jim Mcconkey stated in his post is true. especially how can you not kick the field goal at the end of the first quarter down 14-3 with a 4th and 8 from the 25 yard line? That is just piss poor coaching and we all know it. I will also add JT is a running QB and he fumbled in Q4 on a 3rd and less than 1. If JT can get under center for the victory formation he can get under center and sneak the ball so we can get a victory. If New England Bill B. can have Tom B., sneak the ball so can we. We seem to want style points more than we want victories. Coach fundamental football. Please everyone take note how many times PSU QB could easily step up in the pocket to throw for a first down or take off and run for a first down. The scheme is wrong or someone is not doing their job and this will cost us big down the line. So glad JT drove us down the field on final two drives, but why not go after PSU punter kicking from end zone a few minutes after you blocked his last kick and you send absolutely no one to put pressure on the punter? We need a special team coach who keeps or losses his job solely on how special teams are playing not the entire team. Now back to JT.

    JT this week you are the man! We all like and have always liked the person and leader JT is but his throwing and some of his decision making has angered us, and I bet you he will not have a pro career as he still under threw several vertical passes in this his finest hour. Hope I am wrong as I always root for JT and all of our buckeye players. I have to admit I was really hoping he would try to go pro and not return to OSU this year. Sorry JT but that is how I felt and I know I was not alone. What even impressed me more about JT’s performance is Penn State knew we had to throw the ball and our two best weapons were off, I consider Paris Campbell and # 9 Victor our two best receivers. So JT I hope you keep playing well and earn us a national title, and I will most gladly enjoy eating crow as you hold up the championship trophy.
    GO Bucks and go JT.

    1. They probably didn’t kick the FG because Meyer didn’t think a 42-yd FG was a sure thing.

  3. He’s not flamboyant, but J.T.’s been a steady leader, clutch throughout his career. Last night was a crowning moment for him, but there are four regular season games to go, plus post-season. I still contend J.T.’s biggest problem has been having to adjust to different OC’s three of the past four years, understanding and carrying out new systems. Seems like he’s in tune with the Wilson/Day system, he’s firing crisp passes to – for the most part – sure handed receivers. Hopefully even better things are ahead, but last night was an all-time classic for Buckeyedom!

  4. Outstanding performance by a leader at QB! Nice to see the growth JT has made since the loss to Oklahoma. Smells a wee bit like 2014 ….

  5. One of the many iconic moments of this game for me will always be the tackle by Hubbard of both Mcsorley and Barkley deep in Penn State territory. It was a moment of complete and total domination. It seemed to say “game on” we will absolutely totally dominate you. You go no further! Go Bucks! Great comeback!

    1. Yeah, Hubbard had a Joey Bosa moment all right. Made me smile!

  6. This is the guy who should have been starting earlier in the season. What a great performance.

    Unlike some I have no intention of apologizing for being hyper critical of JT’s passing over the past 3 years. Gauging his comments to the media before this game I’m certain that he’s heard all of those doubting him and his ability to stretch the field vertically. Apparently he’s taken it to heart in much the same way Isaiah Prince has, so, the moans and groans, doubts and chiding produced great results. Some guys just need tough love to pull it together and the quarterback position is one of them.

    I remember years ago when a fighter was getting all the props and adulation from everyone, including his handlers and manager. He entered the toughest opponent he would ever face and looked pathetic. It took his fight manager to get in his face and scream, you’re blowing it kid, you’re blowing it and his FANS booing resoundingly, to light a fire under his rear end. JT Barrett yesterday had his Angelo Dundee/Sugar Ray Leonard moment. Like Leonard he finally stepped up against a very good opponent and fought his way to a win in brilliant fashion. That’s how champions respond.

    Congratulations JT Barrett for hearing the comments and seizing your moment in the toughest circumstances of your career. WELL DONE.

  7. Let’s not overlook how clutch JT was I’m getting the final first down to ice the game. PSU had two timeouts and a field goal wins the game. They loaded 9 in the box and JT WILLED his way to two crucial QB runs for the game sealing first down!!

    1. Let’s not overlook how clutch JT was in getting the final first down to ice the game. PSU had two timeouts and a field goal wins the game. They loaded 9 in the box and JT WILLED his way to two crucial QB runs for the game sealing first down!!

  8. Congratulations, Joe Thomas Barrett IV. That was a game for the ages and I’ve been watching Buckeye football a long time.

  9. I could moan about the opening kickoff or a couple terrible PI calls or the endless lateral passes or the few dropped passes or not kicking an early field goal on 4th and 8 from the 25 or the RIDICULOUS short kickoffs and most importantly the last one allowing Penn State to start their last drive on the 42yd line or letting McSorley loose a few times or a couple DB hiccups but I’d rather talk about that AWESOME win! JT Barrett was UNBELIEVABLE and I owe him an apology. The D Line was out of their minds living in the PSU backfield, the sideline to sideline tackling was AWESOME, the 4 and out at the end of the game was EPIC, the backs battled, the line was awesome, the receivers made play after play and did I say Barrett was UNBELIEVABLE?!!! It was an all-timer!


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