The 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback derby will start as soon as the Cotton Bowl ends Friday when J.T. Barrett plays his last game.
Dwayne Haskins, who took over when Barrett was injured in the Michigan game, and led the Buckeyes to a road victory, will be the favorite to start as a redshirt sophomore next season. Joe Burrow, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, will have to decide whether to stick around and challenge Haskins for the job or transfer. Tate Martell, who will be a redshirt freshman, also will be in the mix.
“I really respect all three players, and that’s the kind of depth that you need,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Thursday. “We saw what happened several years ago when some third-string quarterback (Cardale Jones) jumped in there and did pretty good for those final three games. So they all have somewhat different skill sets, which is a little bit of a challenge for us. But it’s also a lot of fun to go coach those guys. They’ve been outstanding the last few weeks because we’ve been giving them a lot of reps, too.”
Milestone watch: There was a time earlier this season when Barrett was breaking career records every week. With one game left, he has run out of school records to break.
With 176 yards, however, Barrett would pass Purdue legend Drew Brees and set the Big Ten record for total offense (12,692). Barrett can also move up in the NCAA record books. He has been responsible for 145 touchdowns (passing and rushing) in his career and ranks seventh.
A reporter asked defensive end Jalyn Holmes if he thought anyone would break Barrett’s records someday.
“I don’t know,” Holmes said. “I think he broke the records by a lot. He didn’t just break them barely. He kind of shattered them.”
Someone then joked about Barrett coming back for a fifth season as a starter.
“He’ll get arrested if he tries to come back,” Holmes said with a laugh.
Balancing act:The early signing day — Dec. 20 — combined with the Cotton Bowl practices to test the stamina of Ohio State's coaches, who had to work on recruiting without ignoring an important developmental time for their team.
"It was harder than it's ever been," defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. "I've been doing this for 30 years. This period leading up to the bowl game has been the hardest to juggle, but you can't sacrifice (practice time) and you can't sacrifice recruiting. I chose not to sleep, I guess."
Fun diversion: Defensive end Nick Bosa said the team visited Top Golf in Dallas on Tuesday. He picked up the game in the fall and played on his off day, Monday, during the season. He said he's a bad golfer right now but enjoys it.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but I don’t get as frustrated as my brother,” Bosa said. “He goes out and just loses his mind.”
Former Buckeyes:The New York Giants suspended former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple on Wednesday for conduct detrimental to the team. Meyer said Thursday he didn't know enough about the situation to comment.
“Eli was fantastic for us,” Meyer said. “Zero issues. I don’t really know. I know he came back to see us, and we chatted for a little bit. As soon as this game is over, I’m going to try to get in the middle of that one and find out because of our love we have for Eli.”
Apple was a member of Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team, along with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Of Elliott, Meyer said, “I anticipate he’s going to be with us for the game.”