An up-and-down game for the Ohio State football team came down to the play of two members from coach Urban Meyer’s 2013 recruiting class.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, the first quarterback Meyer recruited to OSU, struggled for most of the game Saturday night as the Wichita Falls, Texas, native threw two second-half interceptions that led to 14 Penn State points.
Despite all of that, the Buckeyes were able to escape Beaver Stadium with a 31-24 double-overtime victory Saturday night, thanks in large part to Barrett’s teammate and fellow 2013 recruit, sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa. His sack of Penn State sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg on fourth-and-five in the second overtime sealed the OSU win.
“Joey Bosa, one thing I can say, I’m really glad he’s on our team,” Barrett said after the game. “That’s for sure. Great player, defense really kept us in the game tonight, and we just appreciate them guys … without them we definitely would’ve been a whole lot worse.”
Bosa had a similar sentiment about his quarterback following the double-overtime win.
“I love him. I love just going up to all my players, hugging them, telling them I love them,” Bosa said. “Because I think we really grew a lot closer this game, and it’s amazing playing with these guys.”
Bosa, who tallied 2.5 sacks on the night, said he wasn’t even following to his assignment on the final play of the game.
“That wasn’t what I was supposed to do,” Bosa said. “I was supposed to hit the guard and wrap out, but he blocked down so the hole opened. So I just took it and I was tired of trying to work my way around the (running) back so I just ran over him.”
Bosa knocked the running back into Hackenberg, who fell awkwardly to the grass as the majority of the 107,895 fans at Beaver Stadium were silent while the Buckeyes rushed the field to congratulate their teammate.
As a sea of white rushed toward him, Bosa said he wasn’t even sure what happened on the play. “I was so tired, I didn’t even know it was a sack until everybody started yelling,” he said. “I looked over and he (Hackenberg) had the ball and (junior defensive lineman) Adolphus (Washington) came to hug me and I just fell down and everybody jumped on top of me.
“Oh man, I’m just so, so exhausted.”
Meyer was quick to give Bosa praise, but added that there were other factors that contributed to the game-winning sack.
“Much improved on defense against a very quality quarterback. The thing about Joey Bosa — you get a sack like that, there’s also interior pressure and not allowing to step up,” Meyer said. “We’ll take it. A great win against a quality opponent in one of the toughest environments that you’ll have.”
Even though the Buckeyes were able to hold on, the offense that was coming off of four straight games scoring 50 or more points was held to just 31 points, accumulating just 293 total offensive yards.
Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott said jumping out to a 17-0 lead was a positive, but giving the lead away was disappointing.
“We took the crowd away in the first half. In the second half, we just didn’t have any momentum at all and the crowd got back into it and we started to make some mistakes,” Elliott said after the game. “It was crazy. I wouldn’t say it was quite the atmosphere of (Ohio Stadium) but it was crazy.”
Despite the offensive struggles and a knee injury sustained by Barrett, the Buckeyes were able to hold on in the overtime periods as the redshirt-freshman rushed for 32 of his 75 yards after the end of regulation, including both overtime scores on the ground.
Barrett’s resolve is something Meyer said comes from his upbringing.
“The way this kid was raised. I just have so much admiration for people like that,” Meyer said. “He’s wasn’t overly confident in the third quarter, but I tell you, at the end of the game, when he needed to go make a play, he did it for us.”
Elliott, who led OSU with 109 rushing yards on 26 carries, said he was not surprised to see Barrett bounce back.
“I mean, he’s a warrior and the way he responded in overtime was huge. We fight for each other and we love each other,” he said.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play their next game Saturday against Illinois at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.