INDIANAPOLIS — The future of Ohio State’s offense will have to wait another day, because J.T. Barrett is not ready to step aside for the kid with the industrial slingshot arm.

If needed, QB-in-waiting Dwayne Haskins Jr. was fully prepared to lasso the 2018 season and pull it straight into Saturday night’s Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. If you can come off the bench and beat Michigan, like Haskins did last week in relief of an injured Barrett, you can handle anything the conference title game throws at you. Hey, Cardale Jones did it in 2014, right? No sweat.

But dang if J.T. Barrett isn’t one tough Texan. I stub my toe and hop around in a howling circle of pain. Barrett sneers at such boo-boos. The Buckeyes’ robo QB had knee surgery last Sunday and started against Wisconsin six days later. Six days. I whine longer than that when catching a cold.

“I said (last) Saturday that I was going to play, and if I didn’t play I was going to be a liar. And I didn’t want to be a liar,” Barrett said, smiling. “I felt like myself today. I told (quarterbacks) coach (Ryan) Day, when he asked me how I was feeling to run the football, I said, ‘You can call any play you want to.’ ”

The fifth-year player must be made of space-age alloy. Yes, there was the broken ankle against Michigan in 2014 that ended his season, but he bounced back to bring the Buckeyes within an if-only-they-had-given-Zeke-more-carries-against-Sparty opportunity of playing in the 2015 Big Ten title game, and likely a second consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Against the Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium, Barrett sharpened his dinged up knee into just enough of a dagger to secure a 27-21 win and his first Big Ten championship game win as a starter. He ran for one touchdown and threw for two more in the first half, including a thing-of-beauty pass to Terry McLaurin in which Barrett threw the wide receiver open for an 84-yard score.

Vintage Barrett? With Ohio State leading 24-21 and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Wisconsin 13 with 7:44 to play, he bulled up the middle, found no opening and bounced outside for the first down that set up a field goal. He finished with 60 yards rushing on 19 carries. On a surgically repaired knee.

It must be said that Barrett’s blade was not razor sharp. He threw a pick-six and overthrew K.J. Hill on what would have been a touchdown. Then air-mailed again on a pass to Johnnie Dixon and threw short to J.K. Dobbins late in the game. There were too many John O’Korn moments for the OSU quarterback, who was just 12 of 26 for 211 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. The inconsistency requires an explanation. Barrett did not practice until Thursday, and then only took half the reps to guard against swelling in his right knee, which he received nearly 15 hours of treatment a day during the week.

“I mostly was throwing the football; didn’t run at all,” he explained, adding that the lack of practice reps threw off his timing with receivers against Wisconsin.

But despite what coach Urban Meyer said were “missthrows where guys were wide open,” having the three-year captain in the huddle still had a powerful effect on the Buckeyes, who circle the wagons whenever outsiders take critical aim at their leader.

“He’s earned the respect of players, and that’s the most important respect you can have,” said Meyer, who summed up his feelings for his quarterback.

“He’s like family. I’ve had Tim Tebow, and this kid is a lot like him. How do you keep him out of a game? I don’t see how that happens.”

The Ohio State coach and quarterback have so much history that one wonders what Meyer will do next season when Haskins likely takes the reins. The Warrior, as Day calls Barrett, will be part of the past, not the present.

The future? Haskins appears to be the heir apparent. But he is not quite there yet. He still lacks the leadership fire that Meyer desires.

Told that Haskins describes himself as “low key,” Meyer said, “I love Dwayne, but we’re trying to change the low-key part.”

But enough about next season. Don’t usher Barrett out the door just yet. He passed Art Schlichter on Saturday with his 37th win as a starting quarterback, and there is at least one more game to play.

Will it be in the College Football Playoff? The selection committee will decide Ohio State’s fate when it releases the final rankings at noon Sunday on ESPN.

Barrett will be watching. His future is now.