Ohio State won the [insert corporate name here] Cotton Bowl last night. With the defense smothering the USC Trojan offense, relentlessly pressuring and sacking its quarterback and forcing turnovers, the Buckeyes rolled to a 24-7 halftime lead and then endured a scoreless second half to get the victory. It’s the first time the Buckeyes have beaten Southern Cal since 1974, and the dominant defensive performance gives Ohio State fans the ability to argue that the Buckeyes should have made it to the College Football Playoffs this year.
The Cotton Bowl win was also senior quarterback J.T. Barrett’s last game at the offensive helm for Ohio State. In fact, the game was a bit of a microcosm of Barrett’s career at OSU. He scored both offensive touchdowns for the Buckeyes and became the Big Ten’s all-time total offense leader, but the offense became predictable and J.T. run-oriented and was stopped repeatedly in the second half, when with a few additional scores the Buckeyes could have blown the Trojans off the field and really made a statement. That’s why many members of Buckeye Nation view JTB with mixed emotions — they acknowledge him as a winner and appreciate his skills as a runner and a leader, but they also think about what could have been if he had just played a little bit better in the handful of losses that have marred Barrett’s overall record.
I’m not one of the JTB doubters, because I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect perfection from college students. J.T. Barrett has rewritten the Ohio State offensive record books. He’s got a perfect, 4-0 record against That Team Up North, he’s come up big in a number of crucial games, and his play as a redshirt freshman was essential to putting Ohio State in position to win the first national championship in the College Football Playoff era. Ohio State has been in the national championship conversation during each year J.T. Barrett has been at the controls on offense. The fact that the Buckeyes have fallen short during three of those years shouldn’t take away what Barrett has accomplished.
So I say thanks, J.T., and godspeed! You will be missed.