Dwayne Haskins became a hero to Ohio State football fans in one afternoon, thanks to an impressive relief performance against archrival Michigan.
The redshirt freshman quarterback, who had played sparingly in seven games before Saturday, replaced injured starter J.T. Barrett and directed three scoring drives on four possessions to help the Buckeyes rally for a 31-20 victory. Haskins completed 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards and rushed three times for 24 yards.
Barrett left the game in the third quarter after tweaking his right knee at the end of a 10-yard run, though Meyer said after the game the injury occurred during warm-ups when the camera of a photographer clipped Barrett’s knee.
So will Barrett will be ready to face Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game Saturday night in Indianapolis?
Barrett insists he’ll be fine and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Barrett was “probable” for the game.
UW coach Paul Chryst left no doubt what he thinks.
“We’re not going to try to play guessing games,” Chryst said. “We believe he is going to play.”
The Buckeyes are 36-6 in games started by Barrett, who holds program records for passing yards (9,109) and rushing yards by a quarterback (3,137) and Big Ten records for touchdowns responsible for (142) and touchdown passes (102).
Barrett finished the regular season No. 1 in the Big Ten in pass efficiency with 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, a completion rate of 66.2 percent and 227.3 passing yards per game. Four of the interceptions came in a 55-24 loss to Iowa.
Ohio State led the Big Ten in scoring (43.8 ppg) and total offense (529.8 ypg).
“There is no question it is a heck of an offense, led by arguably one of the best players in the conference,” Chryst said. “They’ve got very talented players and are very well coached and a proven scheme that stressed a defense in a number of ways.”
Barrett was responsible for 318 of Ohio State’s 411 yards in a 30-23 overtime victory over UW last season.
He rushed 21 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 226 yards and a touchdown in the victory. His 7-yard touchdown pass to Noah Brown in overtime proved to be the game-winner.
“Our defense has to have a great week of preparation, and a plan that they know and trust and most importantly can go out and execute,” Chryst said. “We’re facing a heck of an offense.”
From the infirmary
Tight end Zander Neuville (right knee), safety D’Cota Dixon (right leg), tailback Bradrick Shaw (left leg) and reserve outside linebacker Noah Burks (left leg) are questionable for Saturday.
“They get their MRIs today or tomorrow,” Chryst said when asked about the status of Neuville and Shaw. “So we’ll find out.”
Neuville, who plays a vital role in UW’s running game, went down in the opening quarter against Minnesota while blocking near the goal line and did not return.
Kyle Penniston filled in for Neuville and had a 5-yard touchdown reception and a key block on Austin Ramesh’s 41-yard run that led to a field goal.
Shaw was hurt early in the second quarter at the end of a 2-yard run and did not return.
Dixon has battled his injury for several weeks. He recorded one tackle against Minnesota and said after the game he hoped to be able to practice more this week.
Burks was hurt on kickoff coverage.
UW turning heads
ESPN analysts Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer both moved UW (12-0) up to No. 4 in their weekly rankings after the Badgers’ 31-0 victory over Minnesota.
“I think over the last three weeks against Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota they’ve looked dominant,” Palmer said during ESPN’s College Football Final. “They’ve won with style points. One of the best defenses in the entire country. They look like a playoff worthy team.”
Palmer ranked Oklahoma (11-1) No. 1, followed by No. 2 Clemson (11-1) and No 3 Auburn (10-2).
Galloway’s top four was No. 1 Auburn, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Clemson and UW.
“If they beat Ohio State, they get in,” Galloway said. “They came out against Minnesota and played like a team that deserves to be in.”
The rankings are scheduled to be revealed at 6 p.m. today on ESPN.
Palmer believes the Badgers’ defense gives them a chance to defeat Ohio State (10-2).
“They’ve been doing it all year long, playing great, total team defense,” he said. “This is a playoff-caliber defense and it all starts with their ability to stop the run.”