Barrett, Elliott and line stand out


A grade card on Ohio State’s 38-10 win over Penn State. The temperature on the quarterback debate was raised again. Ezekiel Elliott continued to roll along. And the defense continued to allow big plays at a rate that is starting to become a little alarming.

OFFENSE: A-

When John Cooper was Ohio State’s coach he used to talk about players “passing the look test.”

After J.T. Barrett ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, passed for two more and brought a spark to OSU’s offense for a second consecutive week, most people think it looks like he should replace Cardale Jones as the starting quarterback. But how it looks to coach Urban Meyer is the only look that matters.

Jones was 9 of 15 for 84 yards and no touchdowns. Barrett played most of the second half, expanding his role beyond the red zone specialist he was against Maryland. Ohio State has scored all 12 times it has been inside the 20-yard line with him at quarterback the last two weeks and 11 of those times it has gotten a touchdown.

Elliott gained 153 yards on 27 carries and has rushed for more than 100 yards in 12 straight games. Some of the credit for that has to go to the offensive line, which helped Ohio State gain 429 yards total offense against a team that was allowing only 275 yards a game. Other than another slow start in the first quarter, the offense was solid.

DEFENSE: B

The good news was that Penn State got only one touchdown and Ohio State had five sacks, led by Adolphus Washington with two. Washington also had a strip that set up the Buckeyes’ final touchdown. Joey Bosa (7 tackles, 3 tackles for losses and a sack) tormented Penn State for a second year in a row.

The bad news was that OSU allowed a 56-yard pass, a 45-yard pass, a 56-yard run and a 44-yard run was called back because of a holding penalty.

Penn State freshman Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards against a defense that was playing without senior linebacker Joshua Perry, who sprained his ankle on the second play of the game. Dante Booker, Chris Worley and Cam Williams all filled in for Perry.

Perry’s injury and Willliams’ ejection for targeting, which means he must sit out the first half of the next game, could leave OSU a little thin at linebacker at Rutgers this week.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Four of punter Cameron Johnston’s five punts were downed inside the 20 yard-line. Field goal kicker Jack Willoughby hit his only attempt and set a personal best with a 39-yard kick. Curtis Samuel nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown.

OVERALL: B+

Coach Urban Meyer said the quarterback situation would be evaluated this week after the win over Penn State. Whether evaluation = change remains to be seen.

But there is no doubt the offense was able to play at a faster tempo and was more effective when Barrett, last year’s first-team All-Big Ten quarterback, was in the game the last two weeks.

Whoever is the quarterback, though, the most important player on the offense is Elliott. He is not just Ohio State’s MVP, he is irreplaceable.

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