There is no denying it, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett will go down as one of the best signal callers to ever wear the scarlet and gray uniform. The senior gunslinger from Wichita Falls, Texas ranks first in Ohio State history in passing yards (currently at 9,068), completions (742), touchdown passes (101), total offense and total touchdowns.

Despite this, there is still some debate on whether or not he is the best quarterback in program history. And there are some valid arguments.

Ohio State has had signal callers like Troy Smith, who is one of two Buckeye Heisman winning quarterbacks, Rex Kern, who led the scarlet and gray to a National Championship in 1968, and Craig Krenzel, who led the Buckeyes’ to its first national title after a 34 year drought back in 2002.

 

While those three, along with countless other gunslingers, could make a solid argument on whether or not they deserve to be perceived as the best quarterback in Ohio State history, Saturday’s game against the Michigan Wolverines could go a long way in helping Barrett claim that label for years to come.

Barrett is a winner. He’s 35-6 as a starter at Ohio State and holds 35 school and B1G records. But it isn’t all about the numbers.

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Although he is a winner, Barrett isn’t a national championship winning quarterback.

Yes, technically Barrett did help bring a title to Columbus in 2014. But he didn’t win it.

After redshirting a year, Barrett began the 2014 season as the backup to Braxton Miller, who had been the B1G Player of the Year. But a shoulder injury to Miller mean Barrett was thrown into the starting role and stardom. He went 11-1 as the starting quarterback, compiling a school-record 3,772 total yards. But then Barrett broke his right ankle in the fourth quarter of the final regular season game against Michigan.

That injury meant he was on the sideline in a cast as his rifle-armed backup, Cardale Jones, stepped in for three games and led Ohio State to a title. Not Barrett, and that has slightly damaged his legacy.

Oct 28, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) reacts to throwing the go ahead touchdown pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the second half at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After Jones led the Buckeyes to a championship, he won the starting job before the 2015 season but Barrett eventually replaced him, missing a game on suspension after being arrested for drunken driving. Then in 2016, Barrett was better but passing problems hindered Ohio State in the playoffs against Clemson. And because of that, Buckeye fans started chattering about giving one of the backups a chance to quarterback this year.

That talk continued when the Ohio State lost to Oklahoma earlier this season, then were surprisingly blown out at Iowa a few weeks ago, and Barrett was terrible in both games.

Despite those two poor performances, Barrett still has the Buckeyes in playoff contention. But the door is only slightly open. One wrong move could shut it completely.

On this past week’s College Football Playoff rankings reaction show, Kirk Herbstreit stated that peaking at the right time is favorable in the playoff committee’s eyes. That is exactly what Barrett has the Buckeyes doing right now. Ever since the loss to Iowa, Ohio State has completely handled its opponents.

Barrett and the Buckeyes decimated a Michigan State Spartans team that just came off a win over Penn State, 48-3. Then, Ohio State followed that performance with an easy victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini, 52-14.

 

If Barrett could lead the scarlet and gray to a comfortable, dominating win over the Wolverines this Saturday, it further adds to the narrative that the Buckeyes are peaking at the right time. If Ohio State barely beats a struggling Michigan team that will probably start John O’Korn at quarterback, who is viewed as its third string signal caller, then Barrett and company may hurt their remaining chances to be in the playoffs.

Now, even if Barrett does lead his team to an easy victory this weekend, he and the rest of the Buckeyes would still need to dominate the Wisconsin Badgers in the B1G Championship game. However, if he can’t do that, at least Barrett would be undefeated against the Wolverines, which would look good on any Ohio State quarterback’s resume.

There is really only two sides to Barrett’s career: those who see Barrett as a memorable college quarterback and those who don’t. There is relatively no gray area. But it’s hard to look at the resume and not see one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history, if not THE best. And a win over Michigan could go along way to establishing Barrett’s legacy as probably the greatest quarterback to ever wear the scarlet and gray uniform.