Buckeyes win, but Barrett injury threatens to doom playoff hopes


For Ohio State, this very well could be one of those “win the battle, lose the war” type scenarios.

The battle in this case is The Game, with OSU using a 28-point second half to pull away from archrival Michigan 42-28 in the Horseshoe in Columbus.  It was the Buckeyes’ third straight win in the series and the 10th in the last 11 (including vacated 2011 win).

Ezekiel Elliott‘s 46-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-one play with under five minutes to play stretched the lead to 35 28 and essentially put the game out of reach.  A 33-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Darron Lee exactly one minute later served as the icing on the rivalry cake and likely brought an end to the Brady Hoke era with the Wolverines.

The win, though, was overshadowed mightily by injury.  Or, specifically, an injury that could cost the Buckeyes the war.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, OSU starting quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with what appeared to be a very significant injury to his lower right leg and was carted off the field.  While there’s been no official word from the school on the severity of the injury, it looked very much like something that could sideline Barrett for a period of months, not weeks.

In the worst-case scenario, Barrett would miss both the Big Ten championship game next Saturday as well as whatever bowl game for which the Buckeyes qualify.  As OSU is also involved in the chase for one of the four College Football Playoff spots, and based on the committee’s own selection protocol, Barrett’s injury, if it’s determined to be serious enough to knock him out for the remainder of the year, could have a detrimental impact on the team’s playoff hopes.

From the official “College Football Playoff Selection Committee Protocol“:

2. Principles. The committee will select the teams using a process that distinguishes among otherwise comparable teams by considering:

  • Conference championships won,
  • Strength of schedule,
  • Head-to-head competition,
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory), and,
  • Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.

The bolded part is where the Buckeyes’ playoff chances may come crashing down, if that’s what they end up doing.

Barrett has essentially been OSU’s offense in 2014 in his first season as a starter.  He entered Week 14 second in the country in passing efficiency, and he’s accounted for 45 of the Buckeyes’ 66 offensive touchdowns.  His 938 yards rushing are second on the team.

Cardale Jones, Barrett’s backup, had only thrown 16 passes in his collegiate career coming in, with all but two of them coming in mop-up duty this season.  It would stand to reason that the committee would look at the Buckeyes as a lesser team without Barrett; one could also argue, though, that the same thing was being said about a Braxton Miller-less Buckeyes team back in August when the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year went down with a season-ending injury.  In other words, the Barrett then wasn’t the Barrett now.

The question now becomes, though, just how would the selection committee view a Buckeyes team that beats Minnesota/Wisconsin in the conference championship game next week without its star quarterback?  And will it depend on how the redshirt sophomore Jones, if he is forced into the starting lineup, performs what would be his first-ever start?

Regardless of how it ends up, it will prove to be a good test for exactly how the playoff committee approaches the selection process.  Whether that would be good news or bad for OSU’s playoff aspirations remains to be seen.

Two Rutgers players tweet decisions to transfer from Scarlet Knights

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Even as the Rutgers football program adds transfers, Greg Schiano‘s new squad is losing them through the same process.

Friday evening, wide receiver Mohamed Jabbie announced on Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the Rutgers football team.  Just a few hours later, teammate and offensive lineman Michael Maietti (pictured) used the same social-media platform to announce a similar decision.

Both Jabbie and Maietti will be leaving the Scarlet Knights as graduate transfers.  The loss of the latter, though, will likely leave the biggest mark.

The past three seasons, Maietti has started 33 games at center for the Scarlet Knights.  The New Jersey native earned Academic All-Big Ten honors each of the last three seasons.

Appearing in 27 games, Jabbie started 12 of those contests.

This past season, Jabbie set career-highs in catches (14), receiving yards (149) and receiving touchdowns (one).  He will apparently finish his Rutgers football career with 182 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions.

CB Tony Butler posts classy, heartfelt goodbye in announcing transfer from Nebraska

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Thanks to a Nebraska football player, we won’t have to go through an entire day without a portal post.  Hurray?

Late this past week, Tony Butler announced in a very classy, heartfelt post on Twitter that he will be entering the NCAA transfer database.  The move would serve as the first step in a departure from the Nebraska football program.

The cornerback could also return to the Nebraska football team if he so desires.

That said, Butler would be leaving the Cornhuskers as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will be his final year of collegiate eligibility.

“In 2016, I came here as an 18-year-old kid lost and looking for a home.  Nebraska, you became my home and brought me in with open arms,” Butler wrote. “This place became very special. …

“Nebraska, you have done an incredible job at helping a lost boy become a man.  My family and I are forever grateful for this opportunity.”

A three-star 2016 signee, Butler was rated as the No. 22 player regardless of position in the state of Ohio.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

The past three seasons, Butler played in 27 games.  Four of those appearances came in 2019, which was likely the trigger for the decision to transfer.  Most of the games played came on special teams.

Butler is the third player to leave the Nebraska football program in a week.

Linebacker Pernell Jefferson, a three-star 2016 signee, entered the portal Wednesday.  Days before that, offensive lineman John Raridon decided to retire from football to pursue a career in architecture.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

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As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.