On January 12, Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 in the CFP National Championship game. Third string quarterback turned starter, Cardale Jones, led the Buckeyes to their first National Championship win since beating Miami in 2003. On the 13th, Sports Illustrated quoted Heisman-finalist JT Barrett as saying:“I’m not leaving. I don’t think Braxton is leaving. I don’t think Cardale is leaving. That’s being honest. With that, I mean, it’s just competition. It’s part of football. It’s what we’re about to do.”* On the 15th, Cardale confirmed this with a press conference held at Ginn Academy in Cleveland, where he announced that he would be returning to Ohio State to further his education and compete for the starting job next season. Cardale’s announcement sets the stage for possibly the most epic quarterback battle that college football has ever seen. Here’s a breakdown of the situation and of my predictions:
Two time Big Ten Offensive Player of the year Braxton Miller, is now one of three quarterbacks vying for the starting job at Ohio State. Braxton started at Ohio State in 2012 and 2013 and was set up to continue his career up until one week before the season when he re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder. Since Braxton’s injury and JT Barrett’s success, it has been rumored that Braxton is looking to transfer. Rumored teams include: FSU, LSU, Oregon, Alabama, and Duke. Many analysts around the country predict that Braxton will transfer, yet nothing has been confirmed or denied yet. Braxton’s father believes that he will return for his final season of eligibility saying: “Unless something drastic changes, that’s his plan, that’s why he went to Ohio State. He loves Ohio State. So right now that’s what the plan is, to come back and do whatever he can do to help the team make it to the playoffs again next year and win the title.”** Also a possibility is that Braxton returns to OSU as a receiver, which would give him a greater chance to show his athletic skill to NFL scouts.
When Miller went down before the season began, JT Barrett stepped in and led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship. Barrett’s first few games were rough as he was just getting used to the starting job. After the loss to Virginia Tech, however, JT and the Buckeyes went on a tear. Through ten games, JT threw for 31 touchdowns and rushed for 10 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions on the year.*** Unfortunately, JT broke his ankle late in the Michigan game, which allowed Cardale Jones to step in. Barrett will be staying at Ohio State next year and will be competing with at least Jones for the starting job.
Since his infamous tweet in 2012, Cardale Jones has matured into a player and student that Ohio State can be proud of. After Barrett broke his ankle during the Michigan game, Jones came in and finished the game. Seeing his first career start in the Big Ten Championship, Cardale led Ohio State to a resounding win against Wisconsin, crushing them 59-0. This win convinced the CFP Committee to give them the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff, where they would be matched up against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In his second start, Cardale orchestrated a 42-35 win against the perennial juggernaut, Alabama. Now matched up against Marcus Mariota in his third start, which just so happened to be the National Championship game. In this game, Cardale, along with the rest of the Buckeyes, rolled over Oregon to the tune of 42-20 for the win. Now that Cardale has announced he will return to the Buckeyes next year, it is entirely possible that Jones, Barrett, and Miller will all be competing against each other next year.
A small factor in the QB battle is four-star quarterback Torrance Gibson. There is no chance that he will start, unless there are multiple season ending injuries again, but it is important to note that Gibson will be coming to the University next year.
Much to my dismay, it makes very little sense for Braxton Miller to return to Ohio State next year. With only one year left to Braxton’s eligibility, it makes sense for Urban Meyer to give the starting job to either JT or Cardale, rather than Braxton. I think that Braxton will transfer to either FSU or Oregon, both of which give him a chance to succeed immediately as a starter. The QB battle will come down to JT Barrett and Cardale Jones. True to his devious style, I feel Urban Meyer will use both JT and Cardale as the starting quarterbacks for next season. Depending on the offensive scheme, JT and Cardale can be used interchangeably for each other to keep the opponent’s defense on their toes. Imagine Meyer lining up Cardale at Tight End and JT at quarterback, then moving Cardale to QB and JT off the field to rest. Offensive Coordinator Ed Warinner should be itching to draw up new schemes involving both JT and Cardale. Having two experienced quarterbacks playing together next year will hopefully give Ohio State a chance to return to the CFP Championship and contend for a second straight title.
***stats from http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/545624/jt-barrett