INDIANAPOLIS – In needing to make a case for the inaugural College Football Playoffs, Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, helped the Ohio State Buckeyes rout the Wisconsin Badgers, 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship game.
One week after losing starting quarterback J.T. Barrett during a 42-28 win over archrival Michigan and the untimely and tragic death of defensive lineman, Kosta Karageorge of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, not many outside Columbus—let alone the state of Ohio gave the Buckeyes any chance of beating Wisconsin—let alone winning the Big 10 title game.
Jones, a 6’5 250-pound redshirt sophomore from longtime Buckeye pipeline school, Glenville High in Cleveland, ensured that the fifth-ranked Buckeyes didn’t miss a beat on offense Saturday.
The man called “12-Gage” by teammates in Jones helped Ohio State blast Wisconsin and sending a message to all of college football.
Jones—en route to the Big Ten Championship Game MVP—completed 10-13 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Buckeyes a commanding 38-0 lead at halftime.
In his first-ever collegiate start, Jones completed 12-of-17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. With his solid debut in the conference title game, as well as the possible playoff game, Jones may have inadvertently created a three-way QB controversy down in Columbus in 2015.
With Heisman Trophy candidates Braxton Miller and Barrett likely to stay, Jones may have made a case for himself to be the man under center next year. Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott did his best Eddie George impression—right down to the famed half-shirt—in rushing for 220 yards on 20 carries. Elliott’s 220 yards broke Gordon’s conference title game mark of 216 yards set vs. Nebraska.
Devin Smith caught four passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
One cannot forget to talk about the often-suspect Ohio State defense, that looked hellbent in containing Gordon, as he finished with 76 yards on 26 carries. For the game, Ohio State held the Badgers to 258 total yards and forced four turnovers in a simply dominating performance, that will be sure to keep all the members of the College Football Playoff committee up into the wee hours of the morning in Dallas.
In a game marked by the Buckeyes as a chance of redemption, after losing to Michigan State, 34-24 last year, Urban Meyer improved to 43-5 in November/December since 2003, the best in college football. Ohio State becomes the first team in Big Ten history to win 12-plus games in three straight seasons.
Thanks to Jones’ impressive coming-out party in Indy, and the lack of a conference title game in the Big 12, Ohio State showed—in front of a national audience—that it belongs in the College Football playoffs.
The question that will surely keep anxious fans of three schools in Ohio State, Baylor and TCU is, will the Buckeyes 59-point rout of the second-ranked Badgers defense in a conference title game be enough?
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