QB / OHIO STATE
Now that coach Urban Meyer has a proven bullpen at quarterback, the question going into Ohio State’s Big Ten championship game with Wisconsin on Saturday night is, will he be more prone to go to it.
J.T. Barrett holds many Ohio State records and will be the bonafide starter if his right knee has held up through the week. Dwayne Haskins Jr. is the redshirt freshman who leaped from the bench when Barrett went down last week at Michigan and led the Buckeyes to a come-from-behind victory.
Now Meyer has a proven reliever he didn’t have a week ago. If he sees Barrett either hampered by the knee or simply struggling, a switch could be made.
“That's an option,” Meyer said. “I can't speak for that moment, because that's a lot of things that go into it, the score, etc., and how we're playing on defense, etc. But the comforting — you almost hate saying ‘comfort.’ It's the confidence (in Haskins), because you've seen it.”
Haskins led the Buckeyes to two touchdowns, a field goal and a missed field-goal attempt. He was 6-of-7 passing, and his 22-yard run not only set up the first of those TDs, it proved he's a capable runner and has a willingness to scoot.
That’s in contrast to his relief in a blowout win over Illinois the week before when, in heavy rain and wind, he suffered a fumble on a keeper out to the edge that the Illini returned for a touchdown. Meyer yanked him and put Barrett and the starters back on the field, though Haskins did return later and showed more poise.
“We were up there (in the press box) the whole time saying, ‘This is actually good for this kid,’ " offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “It’s one thing to play in a game at the end in a mop-up, but there was a lot of stress.
“I think the way we practice, being in those situations, he played a little, he answered the call (at Michigan) and did a great job, and his surrounding teammates did a great job, too.”