Game 8 Recap: Ohio State 38 – Wisconsin 7
Whenever Ohio State and Wisconsin play, especially in this century, these two teams play to a physical brand of football that emulates classic Big Ten play. With the rain, and the fall temperatures settling in Columbus, the conditions turned this one into a ground game dual. Wisconsin came in with a Heisman hopeful running back, who at the time led the Big Ten in rushing yards, and the question for him was if this game would be his Heisman moment to propel him up among the quarterback race. The hype around this matchup was slightly deflated, but Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff held its weekly show in the Shoe, which meant Urban Meyer was back in the stadium after defeating Michigan last year 62-39. Nearly 103,000 fans packed the stadium, and created one of the loudest noon game environments ever for Ohio Stadium.
Wisconsin got the ball first, which meant that the key match up was going to be on display on the first series. How was Ohio State’s defense going to handle Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin offense? Ohio State held their ground and forced a three and out, forcing Wisconsin to punt. Ohio State then took over, and with a back sack the the Wisconsin defense, they had to the punt the ball back. This back and forth between the two teams when on for 7 straight series. Ryan Day said after the game that with the conditions, he wish the weather would have allowed for more passing, but both teams played it tight, and did most of their damage on the ground, but both stout defense were not giving up much yardage.
Finally, into the second quarter, and on their 4th posession, Ohio State was able to gain 41 yards, and Blake Haubeil was able to connect on the 49 yard field goal. Ohio State defense stepped up once more, and forced Wisconsin to punt again. Ohio State took over from their own 15 yard line, and mustered up a 85 yard drive thanks to some chunk runs from Dobbins and Fields, Olave caught a 27 yard touchdown pass, and with the ensuing extra point, extended the Ohio State lead 10-0 going into halftime.
Ohio State started with the ball, but Wisconsin made some adjustments and forced Ohio State on a three and out. Then, Wisconsin was able to get enough rush on the punt that they were able to tip the ball, and it only went for 15 yards, setting up Wisconsin with their best field position of the game. The Badgers capitalized, and Jack Coan connected with AJ Taylor for a 26 yard touchdown pass, making it 10-7.
Ohio State responded on their next possession with a score on their own, going 75 yards, and Fields scrambling in for a 10 yard touchdown run, making it 17-7. The defense forced another 3 and out, and the Buckeyes scored again on their next series, thanks to a nice return from Garrett Wilson. JK Dobbins rushed for his first touchdown, and extended the lead to 24-7. Ohio State never looked back, scoring two more times, and were up 38-7 with 7 minutes to go in the game. Both sides stalled and Ohio State ran out the clock to end the game.
Justin Fields did not have his best game statiscally, but he proved that he was a leader and had some nice runs when Ohio State needed them. He finished 12-22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. With the rain, and lack of passing, on 4 receivers caught the ball, with Chris Olave pacing everyone with 7 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns
JK Dobbins proved he was the best running back in the game, and in the Big Ten. He had 163 yards on 20 carries and 2 touchdowns, while Taylor for Wisconsin was held to 52 yards on 20 carries. Ohio State’s defense shut down the heart of the Badger offense, and held them to only 191 total yards for the day, meanwhile, the offense was able to rack up 431 yards.
Not only does JK Dobbins earn some Heisman love, so should Chase Young. He might be the best player in all of college football, however the award has been given to the best quarterback or statistically best offensive player. His 4 sacks tied him for a single game school record, and he is at 13.5 sacks for the season, leading the country in sacks and is .5 sacks away from tying the school record. He has at least 4 games left this season. If nothing else, he deserves a chance to go to New York if he continues to play at this level.
Both teams enter their second bye week, and prepare for the final 4 games of the regular season. If Wisconsin wins out, and gets some help from another team against Minnesota, this might be the first match up between these two teams and could potentially meet again in Indy.
After Ohio State had scored to counter the quick score from the Badgers to lead 17–7, Ohio State’s defense stepped up in a big way to force the three and out, and slow down any momentum that the Badgers might have had from the quick turn of plays. Then, Ohio State scored on their next possession to extend the lead to 24-7, and never looked back. Wisconsin does not play in a way where they can score quick, and a 17 point lead is hard to come back from. The defense continued to play lights out the rest of the game.
Star of the Game
Number 2. Pick either one you want but both players wearing the number 2 for Ohio State dominated on their respective side of the ball. JK Dobbins asserted his claim as the best back in the Big Ten, rushing for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Badgers number 1 defense. Chase Young put up a Heisman game as well, with 4 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He was a terror for the Badgers all game, and caught the attention of almost all media with his other-worldly game.
Ohio State dominated in their 8th straight game, and this one it took a while before the offense to get going. Oklahoma losing helped them out for those who still had the Sooners about Ohio State, and they head into the bye week at a great time. The first playoff rankings are released on November 5th, and based on the body of work and how strong they have looked, there is no reason to think that Ohio State wont be in the top 4, along with LSU, Alabama and Clemson.
Ohio State (8-0) heads into its second bye week before returning home against Maryland on November 9.
Wisconsin (6-2) also has a bye week and hosts Iowa on November 9.
Photo credit: Sports Illustrated