Recent history hasn't favored freshmen QBs in OSU-PSU series

BY Marcus Hartman • October 21, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- JT. Barrett's coaches say they are not concerned about how the Ohio State quarterback will react to Penn State's famous "White Out" atmosphere Saturday night, but history is not on his side.

Barrett is scheduled to be the fourth freshman quarterback since 2008 to start for one of the teams in this annual matchup. The first three were all later named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, but none of them came out of the OSU-PSU game with a victory.

Of course Barrett has one big advantage over his predecessors: Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller and Christian Hackenberg were all true freshmen while Barrett had the luxury of a year of college before becoming the starter for No. 12 Ohio State this season.

Barrett has been the triggerman for one of the best offenses in college football over the past month of the season, but the Nittany Lions will counter with what has been one of the top defenses, at least statistically, all year. 

Asked if he felt comfortable going into Happy Valley with the redshirt freshman Barrett as his starter, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said Monday, "More comfortable than several weeks ago. We did go on the road once (a 52-24 victory Oct. 4), but obviously 110 (thousand fans) is different than 50some."

Of the three previous recent freshman starters in this series, PSU's Hackenberg was the only one to have to do it as a visitor. Neither he nor the Nittany Lions had a good night last season at Ohio Stadium. Hackenberg was sacked four times and threw two interceptions, including one in the red zone on PSU's first possession of the game. He watched the end of the 63-14 Ohio State victory from the bench after being replaced by Tyler Ferguson.

In 2011, Miller ran for 105 yards and a touchdown but completed only 7 of 17 passes for 83 yards as the Buckeyes lost 20-14 at home.

The biggest of the three matchups was undoubtedly in 2008 when Pryor led the ninth-ranked Buckeyes against the third-ranked Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium. A five-star recruit from Pennsylvania, Pryor threw for 226 yards but turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter as Penn State scored 10 unanswered points to win 13-6. First he fumbled at midfield to set up PSU's go-ahead touchdown drive, then he had a desperation pass intercepted in the end zone in the final minute. Although the teams ended up Big Ten co-champions, Penn State's victory sent them to the Rose Bowl at the end of the season.

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