COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There were so many doubters about J.T. Barrett's worthiness to play quarterback for Ohio State that it bordered on ridiculous.
Fans and talk radio hosts kept harping on the losses to Clemson last year in the College Football Playoff semifinal and then to Oklahoma in a major nonconference test in September.
Ohio State's offense sputtered in both losses and Barrett bore the brunt of the blame. There were calls to replace the record-setting quarterback with unproven backups.
Coach Urban Meyer and Barrett's teammates didn't listen to any of chatter. The fifth-year senior was their quarterback and leader. No doubts about that inside the locker room and in Barrett's mind.
"I don't really focus on, I guess, the critiques that people have to say about me," Barrett said. "I mean, everybody has a right to their own opinion. That's OK with that. And so that's something that doesn't affect me."
Now all the haters are heaping praise on Barrett, and Heisman Trophy voters are taking notes after a performance for the ages on Saturday at Ohio Stadium against then-No. 2 Penn State.
Barrett was nearly perfect against the Nittany Lions as he rallied the Buckeyes from two 18-point deficits for a stunning 39-38 victory that put Ohio State in prime position for the Big Ten East Division title and a berth in the conference championship game. The Buckeyes (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) debuted at No. 6 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings , with plenty of big games left, including Saturday at Iowa (5-3, 2-3).
Ohio State also will host Michigan State and go to Michigan in the final three weeks.
All Barrett did last Saturday was complete 33 of 39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He also ran for 95 yards on 17 carries.
In the fourth quarter alone, he rallied Ohio State by completing all 13 of his passes. He led a 77-second drive that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and then connected with tight end Marcus Baugh at the end of an 82-second drive for the winning 16-yard touchdown with 1:48 left.
"We see him every day," Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. "We don't care about what anyone else thinks about J.T. because we know what we think about J.T. and what he brings to the table. I know we had four drops, so we left that on the field.
"He's an incredible leader. That's a Heisman candidate right there."
Afterward, Meyer was quick to say it was one of the best games he has seen a quarterback play during his career. And that's saying a lot considering he coached Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow at Florida and Alex Smith at Utah.
"He had a really good game. In fact, he had one of the best games in college football history, certainly one of the best quarters in college football history," Meyer said.
In Meyer's eyes, is Barrett Heisman worthy? Yes, he said after the game, but he hasn't spoken with Barrett about it.
"If I ever went up to J.T. and said what do you think about the Heisman, let's have a conversation, he'd look at me like I had seven heads, say, who are you to talk to me about something like that?" Meyer said.
Barrett has set the Big Ten record for touchdown passes and equaled Joe Germaine's school record of eight 300-yard passing games.
"I tell you all the time I'm just a little cat from Wichita Falls, Texas," Barrett said. "People don't even know where it is on the map. But other than that, I'm grateful for the position God has put me in, and I can't say how much I'm blessed."
NOTES: WR Parris Campbell is questionable for Saturday's game after taking a hard hit in the first half of last week's game. ... WR K.J. Hill was on the receiving end of 12 passes from J.T. Barrett in the comeback win over Penn State last week. Hill's receptions total and 102 yards were career highs. ... Ohio State has dominated Iowa, holding a 46-13-3 advantage. The Buckeyes last visited Kinnick Stadium in 2010, when a fourth-quarter rally resulted in a 20-17 win. ... If Ohio State has one flaw, it's the kickoff team. This unit has struggled all season and did so again last week, as Penn State's Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Coach Urban Meyer continues to be frustrated while trying to find a solution on kickoffs. "It's a joke right now."