Week-Eight Review: Ohio State Offense Vs. Rutgers

Ohio State played their best game of the year Saturday night in dismantling Rutgers 49-7 in New Jersey. The offense cruised behind the return of J.T. Barrett.

- I wrote in my preview of this game that I thought getting J.T. Barrett back into the starting was the cure for a sputtering offense, and that certainly looks like the case after Saturday night. You're going to read on message boards and by national columnists that Urban Meyer was stubborn, foolish or plain blind to not have Barrett starting from Day-One. And as usual, everyone will be wrong. 

- Meyer did the absolute correct thing in starting Cardale Jones to begin the season for one good reason. Jones was the guy through the spring when Barrett was hurt. Jones outplayed Barrett head-to-head throughout the fall. And when the season started, Barrett was given chances early against the MAC to take the job, but played poorly and deserved to be back on the bench. Barrett had to TAKE the job from Jones, it couldn't just be handed to him. And I write all this as a dedicated Barrett supporter, and a person that is not sold on Jones. But Meyer did the right thing, despite what you will read all week from others.

- I've been watching this game longer than most of the readers have been alive, and I'm still learning every day how college football works. It's a great game, and it differs from the NFL in so many ways. Mostly because it's so coaching dependent, while the NFL is a player's league. I'm now convinced more than ever that college coaching is more about problem solving than any other facet of the job. The 85-man scholarship limit gave every team a chance, because there are so many great players across the country. Under the 120-man limit, you could fill out your Top-10 ballot every year with Alabama, Texas, USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, Penn State, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. That's not how it is today. 

- The talent is certainly not equal today by any means, but it is more equitably distributed, so Oregon or TCU doesn't have to be their conference's patsy if they hire the right coach. And conversely, Ohio State or Alabama cannot win big with just "anyone" running the show. Solving problems is the key, and Meyer and Nick Saban are the best at this, in addition to being great recruiters, strategists and motivators. How Meyer handled his quarterbacks the past two seasons is the ultimate example of problem solving at its finest. 

- Putting Barrett back in there now that he's J.T. Barrett again makes everything better. Period. He was a Heisman finalist last year for a reason. When he was struggling with confidence and possibly not being healthy, Barrett was just a guy. Now that he's J. T. Barrett again? Ohio State is now Ohio State again. There's no way Art Briles, Les Miles, Mark Dantonio or Jim Harbaugh could like what they saw Saturday night from Ohio State. A team that struggled to beat Indiana and Northern Illinois earlier, now looks like the unanimous number-one team in America. 

- Instead of listing all the players that played well on this side of the football, let's just go with EVERYONE. You saw why Meyer loves the option game so much, because when Rutgers sold out early to stop Zeke Elliott, it just allows Barrett to pull the ball back and run wild. What if Jones were still in there? Rutgers stops Zeke cold, then you have an inaccurate quarterback throwing against a blitz on third-and-long all night long. And that wasn't a pretty site as we saw far too often. Barrett makes everyone around him better, while Jones needed the other ten on offense playing well to allow him to play well. 

- This is a zone read team. PERIOD. Anyone mad at the O-line today? Why not? Did they get magically better this week in practice? What about Chase Farris? Why was he not noticed last night, but acted as a turnstile for Penn State's defensive ends the week before? This team cannot be the team they need to be in the quasi-pro style, mumbo-jumbo they ran early in the year. 

- What about the wide receivers? There was nothing funnier than reading people questioning Ohio State's ability to get deep on people this season, as if they don't have enough speed. Hilarious. Last night, EVERYBODY got deep, and I mean everybody. Braxton Miller. Curtis Samuel. Jalin Marshall. Mike Thomas. Big plays all over the field. Was Rutgers that slow? Did Ohio State get faster last week in practice? Please. The zone read opens up the field, where the previous offense shrunk the field dramatically. 

- And finally, people's favorite all-time subject: THE PLAY CALLING. Larry, Curly and Moe, otherwise known as Meyer, Warinner and Beck, looked great last night calling plays. They read books, watched Youtube videos and called Tom Herman three times per day right? Nope. Just got the right guy running the right offense, and everything is now solved offensively. Had J.T. Barrett been J.T. Barrett from the start of fall camp, Ohio State would have gone in a different direction to start the season. But he wasn't even average, and Jones earned the right to start. So Ohio State had to tailor an offense that fit the quarterback. Just like they're doing now. That's problem solving. 

- The bye week comes at a great time for Ohio State. They have their offensive identity. They will come back as a better team than they are today. I've never wavered from Ohio State as my number one team since the season started. I've always, always, always felt that their BEST is better than anyone else's best. Saturday night, you saw Ohio State's BEST


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