All along, unbeknownst to anyone but coach Urban Meyer, Cardale Jones was ahead of J.T. Barrett in Ohio State's quarterback competition.

All along, unbeknownst to anyone but coach Urban Meyer, Cardale Jones was ahead of J.T. Barrett in Ohio State's quarterback competition.

Even the quarterbacks themselves were kept in the dark until the end. Meyer said last week that he would inform Barrett and Jones on Saturday which one would start against Virginia Tech. According to Jones, Meyer didn't.

Even during the game's first possession, when Ohio State was on defense, the quarterbacks didn't know. Both assembled in the huddle near the sideline. Jones didn't know what he was supposed to do, so he took a couple steps toward the bench, only to be informed by a coach - he didn't specify which one - that he would start.

Meyer said after Ohio State's 42-24 victory on Monday that in his mind Jones entered the offseason as the leader because of what he had done in the postseason to help Ohio State win the College Football Playoff.

"Cardale finished the season as the starter, and I kind of started thinking that for him not to take the first snap, he had to get beat out," Meyer said. "He wasn't beat out. It was very close. J.T. really closed it and almost nudged (ahead). But we've got two good players, and they're going to play."

Meyer said he thought Jones' size would give him an advantage against Virginia Tech's defense, that Jones would be better able to muscle through or throw over defenders than Barrett, who, at 6 feet 2, is 3 inches shorter.

That proved true on occasion. A few times, Jones bounced off Virginia Tech defenders - or vice versa - as if he were impervious to them. But it was not a flawless performance. He completed only 9 of 18 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns and threw an interception on a tipped ball he shouldn't have thrown.

Jones also ran 13 times for 99 yards, but there were times he was indecisive. He isn't the crisp runner that Barrett is.

Meyer characterized Jones' play as merely "OK," but it was good enough for Las Vegas bookmaker to install him as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy with 7-1 odds, a testament to Ohio State's strength.

Meyer acknowledged that he considered turning to Barrett when the offense fell into a rut after a quick 14-0 start, but the coach said he has given "a lot of thought" to the issues that could arise if he has a quick hook.

"I'm going to have a conversation with them," he said. "There might come a time we have to do that. This journey is going to be interesting. We have to make sure I'm not screwing it up. Right now, I don't have an answer."

Barrett entered the game with 10:43 left and Ohio State ahead 35-17. He promptly ran for 40 yards and threw an easy 26-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, who beat his man with a double move.

Although Jones got the first start, he's not assuming he'll get the rest, starting with a game on Saturday at Ohio Stadium against Hawaii on a quick turnaround.

"You have two great guys with experience who can lead the team in his own way," Jones said. "I don't think the battle is over. We've still got to stay razor-sharp in our play. I'm not even sure who'll start Saturday."

Meyer said both quarterbacks have handled the competition well.

"Unbelievable," he said.

Quarterback competitions can divide a team. Meyer said that is a nonissue with the Buckeyes.

"That's the good thing about this team - the culture," he said. "I want to bottle it. It's really good. There's no locker-room issues. (People don't worry about), 'Who's the quarterback?' None of that. Zero."