Ohio State did just what they needed to do with starting quarterback J.T. Barrett suspended — they survived. Whether that’s enough in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee remains to be seen.
OSU took a 21-0 lead on Minnesota into the fourth quarter and appeared to be cruising; perhaps the Buckeyes got a little too comfortable as the Gophers scored a pair of touchdowns, the last with just over two minutes remaining, that cut the lead to 21-14. That would be as close as the guests would get as the No. 3 team in the country was able to come out unscathed and with its nation’s best 22-game winning streak intact.
In fact, the Buckeyes actually extended the lead to the final score of 28-14 as, on a third and nine, Cardale Jones lumbered 38 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 1:53 left in the fourth.
After a rough start, Jones, benched in favor of Barrett last week before regaining his job because of the new starter’s drunk-driving citation, actually dusted himself off and acquitted himself fairly well for the last three quarters or so. Overall, the redshirt junior accounted for 252 yards of offense, 187 passing, 65 rushing. He had one touchdown through the air as well as the one on the ground.
With 114 yards rushing, Ezekiel Elliott extended his streak of 100-yard games to 14 in a row.
Thanks to Michigan State’s controversial last-minute loss to Nebraska, Ohio State now sits alone in the Big Ten East driver’s seat. After a road trip to Illinois next weekend, OSU and MSU will square off in Columbus. The following weekend, OSU will make the trek to Ann Arbor for The Game against Michigan.
Wins the next two weeks for the Buckeyes, combined with two more wins for the Wolverines (at Indiana, at Penn State), would turn the annual rivalry grudge match into a play-in game for a spot in the Big Ten conference title tilt the following weekend.