Ohio State QB Dilemma (07/16/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Which quarterback should start for the Ohio State Buckeyes?



The biggest storyline in college football is which quarterback should start for Ohio State?

The defending champions enter the 2015 season as the favorites in Vegas to repeat. With expectations sky high in Columbus, the Buckeyes need to solve their quarterback dilemma.

Ohio State has three of college football's best quarterbacks – Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. Each signal caller is uniquely qualified to start under center.

Braxton Miller, when healthy, is one of the most dangerous dual threat quarterbacks in the country. In 2012, he accumulated 3,310 yards of total offense and 28 touchdowns. As an encore, he followed that up in 2013 with 3,162 total yards of offense throwing 24 touchdowns while rushing for 12 scores.

J.T. Barrett, like Miller, is a pure playmaker. The redshirt freshman went from unknown to Heisman candidate last season. Barrett completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns. Before his season ending ankle injury, Barrett had rushed for 938 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Unlike Miller or Barrett, Jones is built differently. The bruising quarterback, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 250 pounds, won't run away from defenders opting instead to run over them. Jones proved he could play on the biggest stage leading Ohio State to the Big Ten Championship and helping the Buckeyes win the College Football Playoff.

In this unprecedented quarterback battle, which player should get the starting nod?

To find out, we simulated Ohio State's regular-season 50,000 times with each quarterback as the starter. The results aren't great for the rest of college football.

Regardless of which quarterback starts, the Buckeyes win more than 11 games on average. Ohio State finishes with the best record in the Big Ten and the FBS in each simulation. Ohio State is No. 1 in our Power Rankings whether Miller, Barrett or Jones is the first team quarterback.

By the numbers, if we had to make Urban Meyer's decision for him, Barrett would be the starter. Ohio State is a more efficient offensively, both passing and rushing the ball, with Barrett under center. The difference between Barrett and Miller starting for Ohio State is nearly a field goal per game.

Like last year, it may not matter who starts for Ohio State at quarterback.

Note: the passing and rushing projections below are team totals.

Quarterback Passing Yards Pass TDs Rushing Yards Rush TDs Record Points/Game
Braxton Miller 3,097.4 33.3 3,413.0 32.5 11.2-0.8 40.9
J.T. Barrett 3,374.1 35.6 3,480.7 34.7 11.5-0.5 43.8
Cardale Jones 3,289.3 34.1 3,371.2 33.3 11.4-0.6 42.0