The Ohio State Buckeyes were poised to make a run at the College Football Playoffs. Since losing to a mediocre Virginia Tech team early in the season, the Buckeyes have turned their season around. They haven’t lost since, and they’ve won in impressive fashion.
They’ve done so, in large part, on the back of redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett has set the school record for most total yards and most touchdowns. He did so in just 11 games.
The Buckeyes are ranked 6th in the country in this week’s AP poll. With a Big Ten title game coming up against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes had their sights set on one of the first four playoff spots ever, with the new college football playoff system. Instead, J.T. Barrett’s ankle twisted in an unnatural fashion, causing it to dislocate and fracture, during the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan.
Ankle Fractures often come along with dislocations. Early in the NFL season, Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle without fracturing it, which is actually relatively rare. The ankle is constructed in a manner in which it allows a high level of mobility as well as stability. Humans are constantly putting stress on the ankle joint every time they walk or run. Athletes put an extra amount of stress on the joint.
The ankle is very strong, and very complex. Many small bones and several strong tendons keep the foot in place. It takes a lot to dislocate an ankle. Much like a concrete building with steel reinforcements, it is built to bend and give before it fails. Often times when an ankle is rolled, it results in merely a torn tendon. The tendon fails first, but the rest of the ankle structure is intact. The ankle is so well constructed that often times, the only way for the foot to dislocate is for a bone to break. This is what happened with J.T. Barrett.
J.T Barrett’s ankle should heal fine, and he will be able to return at 100% next season. Unfortunately, the injury will require surgery and will force him to miss the Big Ten championship game as well as any bowl or playoff games to which Ohio State is invited.
Ohio State has a strong history of plugging in new quarterbacks under Urban Meyer. Cardale Jones will not attempt to pick up where Barrett left off. There is no need. The Buckeyes still have one of the best defenses in the country, and a stout running attack led by Ezekiel Elliot. The Badgers will likely stack the box and focus on stopping the run, so Jones should have plenty of opportunity to succeed while throwing the ball.
If Jones can lead the Buckeyes to a victory in the conference title game, the Buckeyes should still receive strong consideration for a playoff selection. The rules for selecting a team do state that injuries will be taken into account, but Ohio State has a well-rounded team and a very successful system that should allow them to succeed regardless of which quarterback is wearing the jersey.