Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - J.T. Barrett accounted for 389 yards and four touchdowns and No. 8 Ohio State held off upset-minded Minnesota, 31-24, on a snowy Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Barrett set the Ohio State record for touchdowns in a season with 38, breaking the mark set last year by the man he replaced -- the injured Braxton Miller.
"Early in the season we had no idea who J.T. Barrett was," beamed OSU head coach Urban Meyer. "We have a very clear picture now."
The freshman QB threw for 200 yards and three scores and added 189 yards and a TD on the ground for the Buckeyes (9-1, 6-0 Big Ten), who avoided a letdown following their upset win over Michigan State last week.
These teams can meet again in the Big Ten title game.
The Buckeyes control their fate in the East Division, and Minnesota (7-3, 4-2) still has a chance in the West with road games against Nebraska and Wisconsin remaining.
"We were going to have to win our last two (games) no matter what the outcome was," reasoned Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill. "We can't have a hangover."
Senior David Cobb carried the Golden Gophers' offense with 145 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his last home game, while Mitch Leidner completed just 7-of-19 passes for 85 yards and two interceptions in the frigid conditions.
A muffed punt set up Cobb's third touchdown and pulled the Gophers within 31-21 with 7:08 remaining, and they kicked away instead of going for an onside kick, allowing the Buckeyes to kill off nearly five minutes.
After getting the ball back, Leidner scrambled for 31 yards down to the OSU 17-yard line, and Minnesota opted to kick a field goal on first down.
Ryan Santoso connected from 34 yards out with 1:19 to play, but OSU easily recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.
Ohio State jumped out to a 14-0 lead by ripping off two big plays in the first quarter. Barrett outran everyone en route to an 86-yard touchdown, then avoid a sack and found Jalin Marshall for a 57-yard score.
Cobb ran for a 5-yard TD early in the second quarter following a Barrett interception, and a 14-point swing late in the half pulled Minnesota even.
Marshall was going in for another OSU touchdown but fumbled into the end zone. The Gophers recovered and went 80 yards in 11 plays, with Cobb taking a draw and going in from 30 yards out on a 3rd-and-15.
A few Barrett runs and a pass interference penalty moved the Buckeyes into field goal range in the final 1:24 of the half, and Sean Nuernberger made a 22-yard chip shot on the last play.
Minnesota caught a break when a pass interference penalty on Doran Grant negated his interception return for a touchdown, but Santoso hit the left upright on a 52-yard field goal try shortly thereafter.
Michael Thomas was left wide open on the ensuing possession and hauled in a 30-yard score, and interceptions on the next two Minnesota drives thwarted the comeback.
On 3rd-and-12 from the 22, Evan Spencer caught a short screen pass and went untouched for a back-breaking touchdown with 10:08 to play.
Ohio State has won 13 straight road games -- the longest active streak in the FBS -- and extended its conference winning streak to a record 22 games ... The last time Minnesota beat Ohio State in Minneapolis was 1981 ... The Gophers were 6-0 at home coming in ... Ohio State hosts Indiana next week prior to its usual season finale against rival Michigan.