COLUMBUS, Ohio — Five minutes and 41 seconds.
That’s how long it took Saturday night for Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett to assure OSU fans he hadn’t turned into some sort of stumblebum.
Buckeye fans were in an uproar over the fact that a week earlier, the redshirt junior failed to account for a touchdown (rushing or passing) for the first time in 25 games. Horror of horrors, they cried, even though Ohio State still beat Northwestern 24-20 and remained No. 6 in the national rankings.
After an OSU kickoff return to the Nebraska 43, Barrett completed a 9-yard pass on the first play of his first drive. Soon, he followed with a 6-yard completion for a first down.
When a holding penalty and a delay of game put Ohio State into third-and-20 at the NU 31, Barrett calmly found H-back Dontre Wilson with a 22-yard pass for a first-and-goal.
Nebraska stretched Ohio State out to third down again. But from the 7, Barrett scrambled left and zipped a touchdown pass to wide receiver Terry McLaurin — ending Barrett’s streak of games without a touchdown at one in a row.
By the time Saturday’s rout ended, the 6-foot-2, 222-pound quarterback from Wichita Falls, Texas, had boosted his school-record total of career touchdowns accounted for to 94 by adding:
» A 1-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the first half.
» A 75-yard touchdown pass 12 seconds into the third quarter.
» A 6-yard scoring toss just five minutes into the third quarter.
The mark for the most touchdowns accounted for by a Big Ten player in the past 20 years is 95, set by Drew Brees of Purdue. That standard might have fallen Saturday night had Barrett not hung up his helmet after three quarters and his team leading 55-3.
“I thought J.T. played fantastic,’’ OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “He was very sharp, he spread the ball and he spread the entire field. We finally hit some downtown shots.’’
Barrett’s brutal efficiency — 26 of 38 passing for 290 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions or sacks, plus 39 yards rushing — puts him in control of the All-Big Ten quarterback race.
Michigan fans will clamor for junior Wilton Speight to get strong consideration, and he should. The first-year starter has managed the Wolverine offense admirably, with 13 touchdown passes to three interceptions and a .628 completion percentage.
But the 6-6, 243-pound Speight provides little to no true running threat, and his passing statistics trail Barrett, who has 21 touchdown throws to four interceptions and a .645 completion percentage.
Not everything went Barrett’s way against Nebraska.
Twice, he overthrew wide-open receivers deep for sure touchdowns. Also, as a wide receiver in Ohio State’s wildcat formation, he missed a block on the edge that likely would have turned Curtis Samuel’s 11-yard run off a direct snap into a 76-yard touchdown.
But that’s picking nits. Meyer almost glowed when talking about his offense getting its mojo back.
The previous four games, Ohio State had averaged 26.5 points and 409.5 yards in regulation time. Against a Nebraska defense ranked 15th nationally in scoring defense and 20th in total defense, the Buckeyes piled up 48 points and 590 total yards.
“I saw some explosiveness that we’ve kind of been lacking at some positions,’’ Meyer said. “I think relief is probably the correct word.
“We’ve all been waiting for that to happen. There’s no better time than November to get that thing going.’’
Barrett saw his counterpart — Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong — get knocked unconscious when he was flipped out of bounds at the end of a quarterback keeper in the second quarter. Barrett walked over to check on Armstrong while medical people strapped him to a backboard.
Armstrong returned to the stadium in the second half after being checked out at a hospital. Barrett and Armstrong hugged and talked briefly after the game.
Nebraska’s loss means the Huskers gave up control of their destiny in the Big Ten West Division. The two West teams that could get to Indianapolis on Dec. 3 by winning out are Wisconsin and Minnesota. They play on Nov. 26.
Ohio State also doesn’t control its destiny in the Big Ten East.
The Buckeyes need either Michigan to win its two remaining games before its trip to OSU on Nov. 26, or Penn State to lose to get into position to claim a title-game trip.
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Jill Foltz, left, and Gerald Foltz, parents of late Husker punter Sam Foltz, shake hands after OSU presented a special helmet to them before the game.
Nebraska kicker Spencer Lindsay looks at a helmet given to the team by Ohio State. It has 27 stickers on it in honor of late Husker punter Sam Foltz, who was killed in a car accident in July.
The Huskers take the field at Ohio State.
Nebraska linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, No. 15, kneels during the national anthem.
Ohio State safety Damon Webb steps in for an interception, which he returned for a touchdown, early in the first quarter.
Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp can't pull in this first quarter pass, but a pass interference call gave the Huskers a first down.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong tosses a pass.
Ohio State returner Parris Campbell eludes a tackle by Nebraska's Luke McNitt while returning a kickoff.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett shrugs off an attempted tackle by Husker linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey in the first quarter.
The Ohio State student section honors the late Sam Foltz with an "SF 27" sign during the first quarter.
Nebraska receiver Stanley Morgan drops a pass as Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore defends in the first quarter.
Nebraska receiver Stanley Morgan and Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore watch an incomplete pass bounce away in the first quarter.
Nebraska corner Chris Jones breaks up a pass but is flagged for pass interference in the end zone.
Ohio State running back Mike Weber shrugs off a tackle attempt by Nebraska safety Kieron Williams en route to a touchdown in the second quarter.
Nebraska corner Joshua Kalu tackles Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell after he caught a pass in the second quarter.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett throws a completed pass to Parris Campbell.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley watches a replay on the scoreboard as Ohio State moved into the red zone in the second quarter.
A group of Ohio State defenders tackles De'Mornay Pierson-El for a loss in the second quarter.
Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp can't catch this second quarter pass.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong eludes an attempted tackle by Ohio State's Jerome Baker.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong gets tackled by Ohio State's Malik Hooker. Armstrong would leave the field in an ambulance after the play.
Tommy Armstrong's head hits the turf after this tackle. Armstrong would briefly lose consciousness and be taken to the hospital for further evaluation, but returned to the sidelines later in the game.
Tommy Armstrong Sr., the father of Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong, gives a thumbs up while carrying his son's cut up jersey after his son was carted off the field with a head injury.
Teammates talk to Tommy Armstrong as he is carted off the field and into an ambulance.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong gives a thumbs-up sign as he is loaded into an ambulance.
Tommy Armstrong Sr. salutes the fans who were chanting his son's name after the quarterback left the game in a ambulance. Armstrong, who had his son's jersey in his hands, also rode in the ambulance.
Jaylyn Odermann, Tommy Armstrong's fiancee, leaves the field after Armstrong was taken in an ambulance.
The Ohio State marching band forms a tribute to fallen Nebraska punter Sam Foltz during halftime.
Ohio State's Curtis Samuel celebrates his touchdown run during the second quarter.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong returns to the field after being taken to the hospital for further evaluation after hitting his head and briefly losing consciousness.
Nebraska receiver Stanley Morgan can't catch this third quarter pass as Ohio State's Denzel Ward defends.
Ohio State running back Mike Weber carries the ball after a missed tackle by Josh Banderas, No. 52, during the third quarter.
Nebraska offensive lineman Cole Conrad welcomes Tommy Armstrong back to the field.
Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong runs back onto the field after returning from the hospital.
Nebraska defensive lineman Kevin Maurice sits on the bench during the third quarter.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer watches the clock during the third quarter.
Nebraska defensive line coach John Parrell watches in shock as Ohio State continues its third-quarter dominance.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley gives a fist bump to left tackle Nick Gates.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong returned to the field in street clothes after leaving in an ambulance.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst doesn't have much to smile about during Nebraska's 62-3 loss.
Nebraska defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun watches the last few minutes of the game on the bench during the 62-3 loss.
Nebraska corner Chris Jones sits on the bench at the end of the 62-3 loss.