COLUMBUS — Never had so many pins dropping sounded so loud.

RELATED: AP Poll | Reaction

For everyone who agitated for J.T. Barrett to take a seat, the quarterback delivered one silencer after another Saturday in the roaring Horseshoe.

Now, he just might get the final laugh all the way to New York City.

“I think that H-word is appropriate after this,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said after the Buckeyes’ stunning 39-38 win against second-ranked Penn State. “That is one of the best [games]I’ve ever seen a quarterback play.”

That H-word, of course, is the humble pie Meyer told all of us to cram down our stupid throats.

OK, he didn’t say that. The H-word is for Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded to the nation’s best player Dec. 9 in the Big Apple.

Meyer said his senior passer belongs in the conversation, and we’ll take it a step further: Barrett belongs at the front of it.

With a month to go before our ballots are due, let’s handicap the race:

1. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: The rap from the Buckeye nut gallery was this: Sure, Barrett had thrown more career touchdown passes than anybody in Big Ten history, but anybody could do that! Let’s see him do it in a big game!

On more than one level, this was Barrett’s comeback.

With one sublime quarter in front of almost 10 million viewers — the thriller delivered the highest peak rating (9.0) of the college football season — he saved the Buckeyes’ season, recast his legacy, and upended the Heisman race.

Barrett’s 13-for-13, three-touchdown tour de force in the final 15 minutes was his spin on Eddie George running through Notre Dame in 1995 or Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson dashing past Ohio State, the kind of big-game performance that endures from any successful campaign.

Now, that’s not to say Barrett will win, but he is playing as confidently and well as ever, with 2,166 passing yards, 454 rushing yards, and a 25-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If the Buckeyes keep winning and Barrett delivers against Michigan and in the Big Ten title game, he could be hard to beat.

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: Barkley remains the best all-around back in the country — and its most fun talent — but the guess here is the Nittany Lions’ ordinary offensive line undermines his previously favored candidacy.

We saw that Saturday, with the team in gray and gray — honestly, the Buckeyes’ ashtray specials could have used more gray — trespassing into the visitors’ backfield before you could say “One Mississip … ” Barry Sanders couldn’t have pirouetted through such limited real estate, and neither could Barkley, who was held to minus-3 rushing yards in the second half.

RELATED: Despite roadblock, Nittany Lions still have a path to the playoff

3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The best thing going for the playmaking Sooners senior: He was the best player on the field when Oklahoma thumped the Buckeyes in September. 

4. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame: The big-play Irish junior has ripped off a run of at least 73 yards in four straight games and has rushed for 1,169 yards overall. 

5. Other: Stanford running back Bryce Love? Oklahoma State passer Mason Rudolph? Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson? Anyone? 

And for future laughs, here’s my latest vote in the AP poll: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Ohio State, 4. Notre Dame, 5. Penn State, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Wisconsin, 8. Miami, 9. Clemson, 10. Oklahoma State, 11. Washington, 12. Virginia Tech, 13. Iowa State, 14 TCU, 15. UCF, 16. Southern California, 17. Stanford, 18. Auburn, 19. NC State, 20. Memphis, 21. Mississippi State, 22. Arizona, 23. Washington State, 24. Toledo, 25. Michigan State.

This article is written by David Briggs from The Blade and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.



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