STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — It was billed as a big battle of star freshmen, two first-year guys fighting for the Big Ten’s best debut season as they fill college football stadiums with magic for their respective teams.
Ohio State freshman J.T. Barrett got the early jump Saturday night against Penn State but Lions freshman receiver DaeSean Hamilton also had a big game.
Like many opponents he’s faced since being thrust into Ohio State’s starting quarterback role, Barrett simply confounded Penn State’s defense — at least at the start.
Ohio St. | QB | Fr.
Barrett proved elusive during Ohio State’s first two scoring drives, giving the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead with his legs as well as his arm. His 10-yard run for a first down sparked a 39-yard touchdown march. And on Ohio State’s third possession, Barrett banged off three different defenders on his way to a 21-yard run that set up a field goal.
When he wasn’t torturing Penn State’s defense with his scrambling ability, Barrett was burning the Lions with quick tosses through the air. He connected on a 14-yard pass late in the second quarter, starting a 39-yard scoring march that ended with Barrett’s 1-yard touchdown toss to Jeff Heurman for a 17-0 Ohio State lead.
Over on the other side, Hamilton initially amped-up an already electric crowd at Beaver Stadium.
Hamilton, a redshirt freshman wide receiver, has burst on the scene as Penn State’s top target this season. And he made the game’s initial impact, simply because Penn State had the ball first.
One of the first things the Lions did was look Hamilton’s way, and he immediately made heads turn.
Hamilton spun out of a tackle and extended his body for a 10-yard gain that gave the Lions their second first down.
Later in the first quarter, Penn State had some success hitting Hamilton on quick screens. He took one of them 16 yards for a first down and had a 7-yard catch-and-run on an inside screen, both in succession.
Penn St. | WR |Fr.
In the second quarter, Hamilton grabbed a 10-yard pass for another first down.
It’s easy to see when both of these guys have blossomed into difference-makers for their teams halfway through their first season of action on a college football field.
Barrett entered the night ranked 27th among NCAA quarterbacks with an average of 269.2 passing yards per game, was 24th in completion percentage at 65.2 percent and was the nation’s No. 3 quarterback in passing efficiency rating at 182.1.
Hamilton’s seven catches per game for Penn State ranks 14th among NCAA receivers and his 93 receiving yards per game ranks 21st.
Both players are at or near the top of the Big Ten leaders at their respective positions.