No. 9 Ohio State is counting its starting quarterback among the number of key injured players heading into the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, but its College Football Playoff hopes are still alive thanks to a 31-20 win at Michigan. It was the first time in series history that the Buckeyes trailed by 14 points or more and came back to win the game.
Urban Meyer improved to 6-0 in “The Game,” while Jim Harbaugh dropped to 0-3 in the rivalry since being named Michigan’s coach prior to the 2015 season. The Buckeyes rebounded from a slow start that included a 14-0 deficit and a negative yardage total at the end of the first quarter, a first in the Meyer era. Quarterback J.T. Barrett got the offense going with his legs, totaling 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries before leaving the game with an injured right knee in the third quarter.
The FOX broadcast reported that Barrett had an “ongoing meniscus issue,” and after getting taken to the locker room immediately, the Buckeyes’ starter spent the rest of the game standing on the sideline with his teammates.
J.K. Dobbins (15 carries, 101 yards, touchdown) and KJ Hill (two catches for 53 yards) broke loose on big plays to help the offense as redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins took over for Barrett. Haskins was great, completing 6-of-7 passes for 94 yards and adding a couple of good designed runs that kept the defense honest after Barrett’s exit.
Haskins didn’t have a ton on his plate, but he made some incredible throws in a clutch situation. This third-down toss to Austin Mack extended his first possession leading the offense. A few plays later, Dobbins scored the go-ahead touchdown put Ohio State up for good.
1. Urban Meyer has called for an investigation into the incident that led to J.T. Barrett’s injury: At the post-game press conference, Meyer told reporters that Barrett actually suffered his knee injury before the game when his leg was hit by a cameraman on the field. “I’m just so upset with myself it was a non-football injury,” Meyer said. “Too many damn people on the sideline. And a guy with a camera hit him in the knee — I’m gonna find out who — and uh think about that. So uh, I’m so angry right now I gotta move on — that I let that happen.” Barrett later demonstrated what happened for everyone to see. Neither Barrett nor Meyer alleged nefarious intentions immediatel,y but the Ohio State coach will likely ask the Big Ten to review the matter.
2. Don’t expect much information on Ohio State’s QB situation soon: Meyer didn’t want to speculate on Barrett’s health or status for next Saturday’s game against the Badgers. For what it’s worth, Barrett said that he thinks he’ll be healthy enough to play after a week of treatment. If history is any indication, Meyer won’t announce either quarterback as the starter until the first-team offense takes the field. Since Haskins poses a slightly different threat as a passer and played well, Ohio State could exploit an advantage in the unknown with a new wrinkle in Wisconsin’s preparation.