PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The biggest play Ohio State made in its 56-0 win against Rutgers on Saturday night won’t show up in the box score.
J.T. Barrett threw for 275 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Regardless of the opponent, it was the type of performance that the Buckeyes need out of him. He was efficient, but he also showed he could make the big throws that had been missing from Ohio State’s arsenal of late.
“We made some big plays downfield,” Barrett said.
The biggest one, however, didn’t count.
Early in the third quarter, Barrett uncorked a pass that hit Johnnie Dixon in stride for a 67-yard touchdown. It was the type of play Ohio State fans have wanted to see from its quarterback and wide receivers.
“It was a perfect ball,” Dixon said. “It feels amazing. You just know you have to make a play. You work so hard on something and you have to make it count. Off the line, it was just a release. I really just beat him with speed.”
Added Barrett: “That’s what’s supposed to happen, the one with Johnnie.”
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, offensive pass interference was called, so the play didn’t count. Dixon and Barrett both said they thought it was a ticky-tack call and that Dixon simply had slapped away the cornerback who was holding him.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter. Ohio State didn’t need more points on the board, it needed to make plays. This one showed opponents that the Buckeyes can hit on the deep ball the way they haven’t in recent years. Even more importantly, it showed Ohio State’s quarterback and receivers that they can make those plays.
“I think it’s even better for us to see it,” Dixon said. “We do this big thing on Friday called visualization. You want to visualize yourself making that play. Being able to see that (in your mind) on a Friday or even Saturday morning gives you confidence going into the game and knowing you can do it.”
It may not be reflected in the box score, but Ohio State has all the proof it needs that it can make the type of plays that will make the offense better. In games in which the Buckeyes have a massive talent gap, the emphasis is all about improving. Ohio State could have handed off the ball all game against Rutgers and still walked away with a win, but instead it worked on fixing a weakness as the game against Penn State draws closer.
“This is about winning games and getting better for next week,” Meyer said.
Thanks in part to a play that didn’t count, Ohio State can say it’s closer than ever to fulfilling its immense offensive potential.
The post It didn’t count, but Ohio State showed it could hit the perfect deep ball appeared first on Land of 10.
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