Seven down, three to go before the defending national champs get to the real meat of their 2015 schedule.
For two quarters of play, the second and fourth quarters, Ohio State looked like the team that claimed the first-ever College Football Playoff, scoring 38 of their points against Penn State. In the other two, the Buckeyes did just enough to avoid undoing their second and fourth quarters of work in securing a 38-10 win over the Nittany Lions.
Call it coincidence, call it happenstance, but OSU’s most productive quarters coincided with J.T. Barrett being heavily involved.
The backup to starter Cardale Jones, Barrett either passed or ran the ball 15 times, accounting for 132 yards of offense. Of that, 101 came on the ground on 10 carries as he, once again, provided an element of which the starter simply isn’t capable. Most of all, Barrett was responsible for four touchdowns — two rushing and two passing, one of which came on a Tim Tebow-esque jump pass to Braxton Miller in the fourth that essentially put the game out of reach.
That score was the culmination of an eight-play, 85-yard drive that followed the Nittany Lions handing the ball over on downs when they were within striking distance of making it a one-score affair. Down just two scores at 24-10, and after quickly getting into the red zone on a 56-yard run by the superb true freshman Saquon Barkley, Penn State couldn’t convert on a fourth-and-two from the OSU 13 as Christian Hackenberg was sacked and set the stage for more Barrett heroics.
The biggest thing to come out of this game? Barrett showed beyond any reasonable doubt that he should be the starter moving forward. Whether Urban Meyer agrees with that assessment remains to be soon.
Ezekiel Elliott secured his 12th consecutive 100-yard game, contributing a team-high 153 yards and a touchdown to the victory. Barkley ran for a career-high 196 yards in the loss.
The win was the 20th straight for the Buckeyes, the longest current streak in the country. It’s also the fourth streak of at least 20 straight wins for Meyer in his career, the most of any coach in history.
With Penn State wrapped up, Ohio State will move on to a road trip to Rutgers in Week 8 and, following a bye, host Minnesota Nov. 7 and play at Illinois the week after. The next two weeks after that, though, will determine OSU’s postseason fate as they will get No. 7 and unbeaten Michigan State in Columbus Nov. 21 and No. 12 Michigan in Ann Arbor the following weekend.