Last year, the backup quarterback battle between Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins was the center storyline of Ohio State's spring game.
The pair battled all spring, each trying to separate himself and earn the No. 2 spot behind J.T. Barrett, but remained deadlocked heading into the annual scrimmage.
With Barrett the uncontested starter, he played just a few series before Urban Meyer handed things off to Burrow and Haskins, allowing the pair to duel. And they dueled.
Both quarterbacks let it rip, posting remarkably similar stat lines. Burrow went 14-of-22, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns while Haskins went 26-of-37 for 293 yards, tossing three touchdowns of his own.
“I thought Dwayne and Joe Burrow played well.”– Urban Meyer
Each showed extreme accuracy downfield and unbelievable touch on the deep ball. Haskins hit Terry McLaurin for a 30-yard touchdown in the back corner of the end zone while Burrow found a streaking Johnnie Dixon and Demario McCall out of the backfield to show off his arm.
It was fun as hell to watch, but the game only furthered the notion that the two quarterbacks were very near, if not perfectly even and the backup battle a stalemate.
“I'm not prepared to say who is 2, who is 3, etc., yet,” Meyer said after the game. “I thought Dwayne and Joe Burrow played well.”
A year later, we find ourselves in a similar situation, but with much higher stakes. The battle is still dead even and the candidates remain the same – with the addition of another challenger in Tate Martell – but this time, it's not for a backup role but for the starting quarterback position at Ohio State.
When the gunslingers duel during an earlier-than-usual, likely rain-soaked spring game, they'll know it's their last opportunity of the spring to make an impression on the coaching staff and separate themselves from the other competitors.
But as easy as it is to boil down the entire quarterback battle to one performance in one rainy, practice football game, there's a whole lot more to it than that. Nobody is going to win the job off of their spring game performance alone.
"The spring game isn't really important," Burrow said bluntly. "It's really your body of work throughout spring ball and your consistency throughout it."
Still, if the competition is as close as the coaches say it is, it's not difficult to imagine that a stellar spring game performance could be enough to push someone to the top. And with a group of such highly competitive guys, if they're keeping score, they're going to want to win.
So as you watch the action – whether you're braving the elements in person or watching from the comfort of your living room – you better get your popcorn. Because if last season is any indication, these quarterbacks are going to put on a show.