Crazy wasn’t just confined to Game 5 last night. No, crazy went down in the Horseshoe on Saturday. Crazy happened when the Buckeyes ran down Penn State with maybe the most incredible 4th quarter ever. Because chasing 15 points, looking at a loss after Saquon Barkley jumped the Buckeyes on the opening kickoff and James Franklin’s crew had 109,000 fans sitting on their hands for 45 minutes, J.T. Barrett went out and did the impossible.
In 10 minutes, he turned 35-20 into 39-38. In less than a quarter, Barrett went from unappreciated veteran to Heisman contender. He went from system quarterback to the Big Ten’s all-time touchdown leader. And he turned a shocking Saturday in Columbus into one of the most cold-blooded comebacks ever.
13 throws, 13 completions. 170 yards. Three 4th quarter touchdown passes that flipped the Big Ten on its head, put the paddles to the chest of Buckeye nation, and ripped the inside track to the playoff from Penn State.
“Wow. Did that just happen?” is how Urb opened his postgame comments.
Sure did, Urb. And for as hyped as Buckeye fan has to be feeling today, time to rip all sharp objects from Penn State fans, because while there are some cruel losses, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one more cruel than that. Because after playing the perfect game for 3 quarters, they played NOT TO LOSE in that 4th quarter and guess what happened. They lost. Playing not to lose will get you beat every single time.
After spending an offseason wondering how his team blew that two-touchdown lead in the Rose Bowl against USC on New Year’s, they followed the exact same script on Saturday and it bit him in the ass again. Up 8. Just over 7 minutes left. A chance to sink the dagger. First and Goal at the 7-yard line and a playbook with so much creativity went straight vanilla: Three-straight inside zone runs for negative yardage, all 3 stuffed, and the Lions settling for the field goal. You don’t take down Urb and the Buckeyes in their own house by playing it safe.
Taking nothing away from the monster fourth quarter J.T. Barrett played. In fact, I’ve really never even seen anything like it. But you have to finish. It’s something every coach, tells every player, every single day of their football lives. You…must…finish! Especially, in that house, against that team and that coach. Because Urb is still Urb.
And just when it looked like James Franklin and Penn State were about to snatch that crown off his head, Urb did what Urb does: Found a way to win a football game that looked lost.
So don’t look now, but Ohio State is back. Sure, they were getting fat on cake. Cupcakes after Baker Mayfield planted that Sooner flat in the middle of the Block O. But they’re back. And they’re legit. Especially that Buckeye defense that held Penn State to just 283 yards and Saquon Barkley to just 44 yards on 21 carries.
And when it mattered most, J.T. Barrett got it done. A senior who only got his opportunity because Braxton Miller got hurt. Who lost his gig to Cardale Jones only to win it back. He went Legend on a cold afternoon in Columbus. And he put Ohio State on his back and right back into the playoff mix.
Penn State is devastated and Ohio State is geeked beyond recognition and both should be. Because that really wasn’t both that devastating and that awesome, all rolled into one unforgettable Saturday at the Shoe.