Pretty Hate Machine

By Ramzy Nasrallah on October 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm
J.T. Barrett does whatever he wants against Nebraska
© Bruce Thorson - USAT Sports

He doesn't make you crazy. You make you crazy.

Ohio State's three-time captain just landed his eighth Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award. Ron Dayne (nine) won a Heisman at Wisconsin. Denard Robinson (also nine) owns seven of Michigan's ten best games, yardage-wise.

Those two have the most in conference history. One more and Barrett joins them. It would just be another record for a Buckeye who already owns literally dozens of them.

He has five chances to match them, all while he's playing the best football of his life. Barrett's name is now beginning to show up on the most coveted list, again. He finished 5th as a freshman when he was named B1G Freshman of the week seven times. That's the record.

Barrett currently has 21 touchdown passes. All of Michigan's quarterbacks combined have four.

JTBIV doesn't share it with anyone. He might have gotten an eighth (over 300 yards passing and 78 yards rushing vs. Indiana) but Jalin Marshall won it that week instead. Still, seven Freshman of the Week awards means he took that honor more times than he didn't over his first 13 games. Perhaps you're not impressed by these weekly awards. Perhaps you're not impressed by all that much anyway.

This eighth B1G OPOTW award came at Nebraska's expense. It happened on the Buckeyes' first trip back to Lincoln since the Huskers mounted their biggest comeback in school history against them. Saturday's game also followed last year's 62-3 disembowelment in Ohio Stadium.

For both sets of fans, this was a rare revenge game that cut both ways. They owed each other.

And it was paid up quickly. Barrett threw more touchdown passes Saturday night than Michigan as a team has thrown all season. It's the second time he's done that - he also tied Ohio State's school record for touchdowns in a game, which was previously held by...right, J.T. Barrett.

barrett punches it in
Barrett got the ball into Nebraska's enzone seven times.

Every single drive he started ended in Nebraska's endzone. The length didn't matter - 96, 85, 80, 71, 59, 75, 75, 66 yards; eight drives, eight touchdowns, eighth B1G Offensive Player of the Week award. It's historic. It's a celebration.

And, for some people, maddening. But he doesn't make you crazy. You do.

The easy explanation for his success must be that Nebraska isn't very good, which is what allowed Barrett to flourish - after all, the Huskers' best win this season is a seven-point loss at Oregon. But no one has gone 8/8 on drives against Nebraska, let alone in its backyard under the lights. Last season Barrett failed to go 8/8 on drives against the then-No.10 Huskers. He only went 7/7. Then he got benched, because the Buckeyes had scored too many points.

Barrett would have had a great shot at B1G OPOTW after that game (he would have nine already!) but alas, Curtis Samuel Jalin Marshall'd him and won it instead. Here's who Barrett has victimized en route to his unimpressive weekly accolades:

2014 KENT STATE Ohio Stadium 23/30 for 312 8/6 yards 6 1
  RUTGERS Ohio Stadium 19/31 for 261 7/107 yards 5 0
  @ MICHIGAN STATE (#7) East Lansing, Night, ESPN Gameday 16/26 for 300 14/86 yards 5 0
2015 @ RUTGERS Piscataway, Night 14/18 for 223 13/101 yards 5 0
2016 BOWLING GREEN Ohio Stadium 21/31 for 349 6/30 yards 7 1
  @ WISCONSIN (#8) Madison, Night, ESPN Gameday 17/29 for 226 21/92 yards 3 1
2017 @ INDIANA Bloomington, Night, ESPN Gameday 20/35 for 304 13/61 yards 4 0
  @ NEBRASKA Lincoln, Night 27/33 for 325 10/48 yards 7 0

Five road night games, three ESPN Gameday games, two top ten teams. It wasn't all cupcakes? Weird.

The other side of what's making you crazy is your continued insistence on discounting Barrett's competition as if other teams don't also play lesser opponents. Few if any quarterbacks pile up accolades like Barrett has, regardless of competition. But he's a system quarterback. Braxton Miller started 35 games at quarterback, mostly in this system.

He won B1G OPOTW three times as a QB. Barrett now has two more starts than his predecessor did. Braxton also commandeered that lost 2011 season, sure. Barrett had two years with Tim Beck as his position coach.

There's an old adage that may help you cope with your madness: Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern, four times is a trend, eight times is hey asshole stop trying to diminish J.T. Barrett's greatness. Confucious first said this thousands of years ago. Him, Plato and probably Abe Lincoln. It's been written in the stars.

barrett hits campbell, who drops it
No one is better with a clean pocket, but it takes two. 

Thousands of years later Barrett is demoralizing teams on 3rd down on the ground and through the air while making snap decisions and doing exactly what a vocal minority of fans think Dwayne Haskins can already deliver in prolific fashion outside of mop-up duty. Barrett ranks in the top 20 nationally in virtually every statistic you want except for attempts and completions, and that's only because Ohio State has a competent ground game that requires participation.

His play is not sexy, which can be irksome. However - he is efficient as hell, which should be sexy.

Efficiency is his specialty. Barrett's ball doesn't fly out of his hand like Cardale's did; it merely gets to where it's going. He doesn't run away from anyone except Minnesota and Jabrill Peppers or dazzle you with shiftiness like Braxton. He diagnoses and distributes. He keeps his teammates cool under pressure. Then he collects and hoards records.

Watch what happened when Nebraska rushed three and dropped eight into coverage. Barrett raced through his progressions and quickly found an open man hidden behind the umpire.

Sure it was Nebraska. Yeah, they suck. Every other team had to play at Alabama last week.

You've had a lot riding on this Penn State game coming up in a week and a half. If Barrett performs up to your expert expectations, perhaps you'll coalesce around the idea that he's guiding this team to great things and possibly leading himself to Manhattan in December.

Changing your mind is good. Flip-flopping isn't a signal of weakness; it's a symptom of enlightenment. If the Buckeyes lay an egg against the Nittany Lions (they won't) or anyone else on the schedule (unlikely) it won't change what Barrett has already done, which is literally a couple dozen things that no one at Ohio State has ever done.

But if you don't, that won't change the fact that Barrett is the most efficient quarterback the Buckeye offense has had since Joe Germaine almost two decades ago, which makes him one of two most efficient QBs ever. He's run the show surrounded by NFL-ready talent, neophytes unsure of what the next play is, and a mixture of both. You are going to miss his methodical, historic production once Ohio State finally runs out of games for him to play in.

And once you finally realize that, it might just make you crazy.

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