Cardale Jones leaned on J.T. Barrett as he stretched before the game against Virginia Tech on Monday. Barrett and Jones hugged and shook hands after the game. They stood next to each other as No. 1 Ohio State sang “Carmen Ohio” after its 42-24 victory.
Barrett and Jones have been inseparable since they started competing for the quarterback job in August. Their paths didn’t diverge until moments before Ohio State’s offense took the field for the first time at Lane Stadium. Until then, neither knew who would start.
Urban Meyer must throw great surprise birthday parties. He knows how to keep a secret.
“Both of us were in the huddle on the first play, and we didn’t know,” Jones said. “I was kind of taking a couple steps toward the sideline as they called the play, and (Meyer) was like, ‘No, you’re in.’ All I know is coach (Tim) Beck kept saying, ‘Did Coach talk to you yet?’”
Meyer said last week he would tell the players on Saturday. Jones said he didn’t.
Explaining his choice, Meyer said, “It was very close. We met twice on the journey in training camp. (Jones) was ahead. J.T. really closed it and almost nudged back in. The way I looked at it, Cardale finished the season. Statistically, it was almost identical. I kind of started thinking for him to not take the first snap, he would have to get beat out, and he wasn’t beat out. It was very close. But we’ve got two good players, and they’re going to play.”
Jones completed 9 of 18 passes for 186 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed 13 times for 99 yards. He sealed the victory with a 10-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Barrett entered the game with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter and Ohio State leading 35-17. He finished the drive with a 40-yard run and 26-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas.
Jones expects the competition to continue as the season progresses with games against Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan the next three weeks.
“I don’t think the battle is over,” Jones said. “You have to guys with experience who can lead in their own way.”
Bosa’s evening: Defensive end Joey Bosa, suspended for the first time, stayed home in Columbus and dog sat for Ezekiel Elliott, who has a puppy named Ace.
“Ace is more famous than me; it’s official,” Elliott wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “They asked about him in media after the game. It’s OK. I love (that) my pup gets more love than me.”
Magic number: Ohio State has scored 42 points in five of its last six games, hitting that number against Indiana, Michigan, Alabama and Oregon in the 2014 season and again Monday. The lone exception in that stretch was a 59-0 victory against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.