J.T. Barrett’s freshman season was a record-breaking one.
In 2014, he reached the end zone 45 times, setting a B1G record for the most total touchdowns scored in a single season. As a junior, Barrett looks poised to break more records.
The Buckeyes gunslinger accounted for seven touchdowns in Ohio State’s 77-10 win over Bowling Green, setting a new school record. Actually, Barrett had eight touchdown passes if you count the pick-six he threw on the opening possession. But we’ll ignore that one ill-advised pass in an otherwise flawless performance.
Yeah, Barrett is a worthy contender to take home that award when the season concludes. Even after a season where his primary duties came in a backup role behind Cardale Jones, the quarterback hasn’t skipped a beat.
Barrett was intercepted on Ohio State’s first possession by Brandon Harris, who gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead after the 65-yard pick six. But the junior bounced back quickly and showed why he’s a serious contender to be named college football’s best player in 2016.
He answered with four-straight touchdown passes, three coming from 25-yards out or further. for the Buckeyes’ fifth and final touchdown of the first half, Barrett decided to keep it himself for a nine-yard score.
Too put it simply, Barrett dominated.
He looked like the same quarterback that helped the Buckeyes notch an 11-1 regular season record two years ago before getting injured in the season finale against Michigan.
Actually, no he didn’t. He looked better.
For his first touchdown pass of the season, Barrett found K.J. Hill who took it in from 47 yards out to tie the game. On the next possession, he hit Dontre Wilson for a 25-yard score. To round out the first quarter, Barrett found Curtis Samuel for a 79-yard touchdown.
The lone interception, and one of the few mistakes of the game for the Buckeyes, was long forgotten.
Barrett has a major responsibility this season, one very similar to what he had back in 2014. As the Buckeyes enter the season losing a good chunk of their offensive talent, the seasoned quarterback is expected keep the offense rolling. He certainly has the talent to be one of the conference’s top quarterbacks, but with so many new guys in the mix, it was hard to know whether or not Barrett would be the same, record-breaking quarterback he was as a freshman.
Would he have to rely on his legs in the early portion of the season until the wide receivers got acclimated to the college speed? Would a lot of his passes wind up on the ground? Would he struggle after sitting out for most of the 2015 season?
All of those questions were answered on Saturday afternoon.
It helps that players like Austin Mack, Curtis Samuel and K.J. Hill stepped up. Their emergence as big-play threats takes some of the pressure off of Barrett to create something out of nothing.
Despite the loss of production, Ohio State is going to continue to overwhelm teams with their explosive offense. Even as leaders emerged with on that side of the ball, Barrett is the greatest weapon on the field. His chase for the Heisman Trophy is alive and well.
Barrett finished the day 21 of 31 for 349 yards. He added 30 yards on six carries to his total for the afternoon. It’s still hard to believe he sat behind Jones for much of the 2015 season.