by Emily Engle
(picture from Greg Bartram of USA TODAY sports)
Saturday, November 29, the Ohio State Buckeyes played the Michigan Wolverines in their biggest rivalry game of the season and won, 42 to 28. This brought the Buckeyes to a now 11 and 1 record, with their only loss being to Virginia Tech in the second game of the season.
The game nearly passed uneventfully in the typical hyped-up occurrence of a rivalry until the fourth quarter, when OSU’s star quarterback, J. T. Barrett, broke his right ankle and effectively ended his current season. But the gesture that shocked the stadium – then resonated nationwide – was not the injury; it was Michigan’s quarterback, Devin Gardner, approaching Barrett on the field to check on him.
Gardner approached Barrett who was on the field being treated. Gardner knelt by Barrett’s head and reportedly asked how he was doing and told Barrett that he was praying for him. In a now viral image, Gardner placed his hand on Barrett’s face for a brief moment as he spoke.
The gesture was largely unexpected given the tense atmosphere that often surrounds rival teams, but that Gardner shattered this perception sparked nationwide appreciation. He quickly inspired hashtags such as #RivalryAsideForABriefMoment. And a director at one of OSU’s satellite campuses, Marion, was so touched by the class that Gardner showed in those moments that he wrote letters to both Gardner and Michigan’s athletic director thanking them for the gesture of compassion.
Once Barrett was treated, the game then continued under the leadership of third-string sophomore player Cardale Jones. After the injuries of first- and second-string OSU quarterbacks Braxton Miller and now Barrett, Jones will be responsible for leading the Buckeyes through their biggest game yet: the upcoming Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin.