INDIANAPOLIS – When it came to having arthroscopic surgery to repair damage to cartilage in his knee, J.T. Barrett didn’t really have an option.
But when it came to playing against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday night, Barrett could run the option and do everything else he needed to do.
There was no hint of a surgery hangover. No plays were off limits. And with an offensive line that protected him so well that a highly rated Wisconsin defensive line never sacked him, Barrett took every snap when the Buckeyes beat the Badgers 27-21 to become Big Ten champion for the first time since 2014.
OSU coach Urban Meyer compared Barrett to Tim Tebow, his favorite quarterback at Florida when he coached there.
“I had Tebow, and this kid is a lot like him,” Meyer said. “How do you keep him out of the game? I don’t know.”
Barrett said he had no choice but to have the surgery done last Sunday.
“It wasn’t like I had an option,” he said. “I couldn’t straighten my leg, and my meniscus popped out. I had to have the surgery. It was a small procedure really. Then it was a lot of time in the training room.”
The surgery removed a piece of cartilage. There was no structural damage to Barrett’s knee, Meyer said.
Barrett injured the knee when someone ran into him on the sideline before the Michigan game, then he aggravated it in the third quarter of that game. He did not return to last week’s game after the third-quarter injury.
He joked that he had to play because he said he would after that game.
“On Saturday I said I was going to play next week, and if I didn’t I was kind of going to be a liar, and I didn’t want to be a liar,” he said.
Barrett said he felt good going into Saturday night’s game and didn’t have any issues with his knee during the game.
“I felt like myself. Coach Day (quarterbacks coach Ryan Day) asked me before the game how I felt about running the football and I said, ‘Call any play you want,’” he said.
Meyer said, “After Tuesday when it (Barrett’s knee) didn’t swell, they told me it was looking good. Wednesday it was looking really good, and Thursday they said he’d be ready to go.”
Saturday night was Barrett’s chance to play in a Big Ten championship game. In 2014, his season was ended by a broken ankle in the Michigan game, and Cardale Jones made himself a legend by leading Ohio State to a Big Ten championship and a national championship.
So, getting a chance to quarterback OSU to a Big Ten championship was one of many things that made Saturday night special for Barrett.
“Last time I got us to the party, but I wasn’t let in,” Barrett said.
This time, he led Ohio State to the party and there was no way anyone could keep him out.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.