Dennis Dodd: ‘Ohio State Almost Can’t Lose If One QB Slumps’

After J.T. Barrett outplayed Cardale Jones in a 38-10 win over Penn State on Saturday, Urban Meyer is refusing to name a starting quarterback for this Saturday’s game at Rutgers.

Meyer has gone back and forth with his quarterbacks all season, bringing in Barrett when Jones has struggled. He then carved out a red-zone role for Barrett before going with him for most of the second half against Penn State.

Ultimately, what’s the right answer for the Buckeyes?

“I think it’s what he just said,” CBSSports.com college football insider Dennis Dodd said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’ve said this since the beginning of the season: they’re so talented at quarterback that it’s almost a crime to leave one all-star championship quarterback on the bench for a length of time. Whoever starts, play him until he doesn’t really do well anymore and bring the other guy in for a jumpstart. I think they understand it. This is unprecedented, I think, in college football history to have these two guys this good. So why not? If one guy’s not performing, bring in the next guy. One guy’s won a national championship; the other guy’s the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. You almost can’t lose if somebody starts to slump.”

Jones threw for a career-high 291 yards in a 49-28 win over Maryland on Oct. 24, but has been up and down this season. In fact, he has failed to account for a single touchdown – passing or rushing – in three games this season. He also hasn’t rushed for a touchdown since the Buckeyes’ season-opening win at Virginia Tech.

Barrett, meanwhile, has seven touchdowns (two pass, five rush) in the last two weeks alone. He’s certainly had his off moments this year but has, according to many, looked like the better, more consistent quarterback.

Nevertheless, will Meyer stand pat and start Jones against Rutgers?

“Yeah, why not?” Dodd said. “Keep these guys on edge. Barrett has two more years of eligibility. Cardale Jones obviously can come out and had to consider coming out after those three games last year, but why not keep them on edge? I don’t think he’s ruining anybody’s confidence. This is two really high-functioning quarterbacks and I don’t see a problem with it. What are the odds that both guys are going to tank? I don’t think so. I think one of them is going to be really good in any given week.”

Dodd has the Buckeyes ranked No. 1 in his mock College Football Playoff this week. The Buckeyes are the defending national champions and have won 20 straight games. But are they the best team this year?

“Well, I think they have the most talent. Is that a cop out?” Dodd said, laughing. “I think there’s many layers to this. You can make a case for a team like Utah being No. 1 because they’ve beaten three teams that were either ranked at kickoff or ranked now – and no one else has done that in the country. I think you can make the case for them. I think you can make the case for Baylor with all the yards they’re putting up and they have a serviceable defense. Ohio State is almost playing against its own standard, against its own numbers, its legacy. So I can see other points of view, let’s put it that way.”

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