Despite beating Michigan 42-28, there were plenty of concerned faces among the Ohio State players and coaches. They’re going into the Big Ten championship game with quarterback J.T. Barrett, who dislocated his ankle and broke a bone in his leg, meaning he’s out of whatever remains of this season.
The Buckeyes make it 8-0 through the Big Ten in the regular season for a third straight year, something that hasn’t happened since the 1930’s. Instead of going into the conference championship game booming with confidence after beating their big rivals in front of over 108,000 inside Ohio Stadium while denying Michigan from even playing in a bowl game, they’re heading into the encounter with a very good Wisconsin team knowing that Cardale Jones just isn’t as good.
Well, those were the thoughts before this season began when Barrett took over for Braxton Miller and turned out to be an even better quarterback, with an explosive ability both as a passer and runner. He was fantastic in the moments he was still in the game, throwing for 176 yards and a touchdown, rushing for 89 yards and two more touchdowns. Jones came in and didn’t have to do much, but it’ll be a very interesting situation for the big sophomore, getting his first start in one of the most difficult situations possible.
Another thing for Ohio State to be concerned about is the committee. Yes, they did enough to convince in the win over Michigan, but Florida State didn’t slip and neither did Alabama or Oregon. TCU won big, which means Ohio State for the most will move up one spot to number five. They still have to beat Wisconsin to get in. Besides of the different calculations regarding that game, Ohio State need to hope the committee regard winning a championship game more than they do winning a conference without one when they make their final selections.
And if Barrett isn’t playing, expect to see even more running from Ezekiel Elliott who ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Michigan. It’s going to be a very frustrating game against Wisconsin for the people who love to see teams putting the ball in the air. Ohio State might still go ahead and try to see if Jones has what it takes, because even backups at Ohio State turn out to be very capable college quarterbacks, and yet this feels like a game with no more than 20-25 passing attempts combined for both quarterbacks.
Brady Hoke and Michigan go out like they deserve to. For such a bad season there shouldn’t be a bowl game, and for such a bad coach, who is responsible for the further deterioration of this school’s prestige on the football field, there shouldn’t be a chance to go out on a high note. Unlike Will Muschamp, his future is still undetermined, but if doing badly over your entire tenure except for one season and showing zero ability of making any progress with your talented players and recruits is something that keeps Hoke at his job, than something at the AD’s office in Michigan is very very wrong.