Ten Things We Learned From Ohio State’s 38-7 Win Over Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor Ohio State Buckeyes Defense

Wisconsin came into Saturday’s game wounded, but angry. Ohio State knew to expect the Badgers’ best.

That expectation led to a Buckeye blowout, to the tune of a 38-7 victory over the 13th-ranked Wisconsin squad.

This was finally going to be a test for Ohio State, and maybe it was. Maybe this Ohio State squad is the kind that studies every night. They go over notes well in advance of the tests. They remind the teachers to assign homework. They volunteer to monitor the cafeteria rather than engage in lunch-time shenanigans.

This Buckeye team may be the biggest batch of football nerds Ohio State has ever seen, and there’s no bigger Pigskin Poindexter than Chase Freaking Young.

What more could we have possibly learned from another completely dominating effort from the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I’m not even sure at this point, but why stop a good thing?

1. It’s time to make Garrett Wilson the full-time punt returner.

Demario McCall was back for the first three or four punt returns for the Buckeyes, but eventually freshman Garrett Wilson took over and he needs to stay tooken over. No, that’s not great English. In fact, it may not even actually be English. But the point remains — Garrett Wilson is good at returning punts and looks completely safe and comfortable doing it. He now has five punt returns for 80 yards, which is 16 yards per return — and more than double the averages of McCall and KJ Hill.

2. Ryan Day trusts Chris Chugunov.

I mentioned this on the Instant Reaction podcast Saturday, but I loved the play call when Justin Fields left the field of play. Everyone was expecting Chris Chugunov to simply hand the ball off, but instead they called a screen pass. That screen got blown up and Chugunov threw the ball away in a very smart way. Calling this play at this time tells me that Ryan Day not only trusts Chugunov to play, but also trusts him to make the right decisions, which he did on his early opportunity against the Badgers.

3. Chris Olave is letting his personality show.

Sophomore receiver Chris Olave had a career day against Wisconsin, catching seven passes for 93 yards and two scores. It’s his third game — and second in a row — with two touchdown catches this season. That’s all old hat, though. What is a bit new for the relatively quiet receiver is that we are seeing Olave’s personality come out on the field. Whether it’s signaling a first down, pointing into the crowd in the end zone, or a simple shoulder shimmy, Chris Olave’s confidence is coming through in his posture — and posturing. In his last two games — against two of the Big Ten’s best defenses — he has 12 catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns. A shoulder shimmy or three is perfectly acceptable.

4. Ryan Day has this team locked in.

Ohio State knows what it’s like to have to regroup after a loss and they know exactly the stakes that go into that next game. Which means they also knew exactly what to expect from Wisconsin as they entered Ohio Stadium. They were expecting the Badgers’ best. The little errors would have surely been fixed and any glimpses of weaknesses from the Illinois loss would have been addressed days in advance. And you know what, they probably were. But it didn’t matter because the Buckeyes were ready for it. Just like they’re ready for every single week and every single test. The pain of the previous two seasons is an incredible motivator — and so are Ryan Day and his coaching staff.

5. Chase Young is underrated.

Look, all I’m saying is if you want to call Chase Young the best player in college football or rank him No. 1 among all players, that’s great. But we need a number higher than ‘1’ because it doesn’t really do him justice. We need to invent a new number that we put before ‘1’ only when it is warranted. And yeah, “Chase Young is the best player in America” is a fine sentiment, but it still falls short because it foolishly and inadequately compares him to humans.

6. Justin Hilliard is not out of place on this defense.

As Ohio State’s defense was taking the field for the first time, I saw No. 47 running onto the field and said to nobody in particular, “Whoa, Justin Hilliard is out there.” The Buckeyes went with a 4-4-3 alignment at the beginning of the game, starting four linebackers against the Wisconsin rushing attack. With a defense that routinely plays four linebackers, it was interesting to see them incorporate a fifth in Hilliard. The Buckeyes didn’t go with the 4-4-3 all game long, so Hilliard only finished with one tackle, but it was a huge stop as he dragged down running back Jonathan Taylor for a loss of six on second-and-10. Chase Young would then sack Badger quarterback Jack Coan on the next play, forcing a Wisconsin punt. Hilliard has been a bit of a forgotten man on this defense, but on Saturday he showed that you better keep his name in mind for the second half of the season. And it’s clear that the Buckeye coaches will be doing just that.

7. The OSU offense stops itself more than opposing defenses.

A quick snap, a dropped snap, several drops. On Saturday, Wisconsin’s best defense was Ohio State’s offense. That’s been the case for most opponents this season. That’s not to say that the Buckeye offense is sabotaging itself, just that they seemingly stop themselves as much or more than the opposing defense does (and it’s still not all that often). After the game, quarterback Justin Fields said he thinks the Buckeyes would have put 50 points on the Badgers if not for the rain. I’m not doubting it.

8. The Buckeyes need this off week.

I’m going to chalk up some of the pass protection issues to Thayer Munford not being as healthy as he will be with a week off. He wasn’t the only issue, but it was clear he was struggling a bit out there. Justin Fields could also use a week off to heal up from his various bumps and bruises. The same can be said for Austin Mack, Jonathon Cooper, Teradja Mitchell, and — for this team — hopefully Josh Alabi. There are some key contributors out right now who will put this week off to very good use. If the Buckeyes can be as healthy as possible in November, that would make them very different from most college football teams down the stretch.

9. The versatility of this team is a killer.

Ohio State is the best Power 5 rushing team in the nation, averaging 284.3 yards on the ground per game. They are a running team and can destroy and wear down very good defenses with the running game. But they can also go five wide and Justin Fields can spread defenses and shred defenses. They were able to move the ball downfield at the end of the first half against Wisconsin. Eight plays, 85 yards, in 1:54. Six passes were called on that drive. I still say this offense can throw the ball on anyone, they just haven’t had to do it yet. And then you look at the Ohio State defense. They play a base defense with three lockdown corners and one deep safety. They can match up against spread looks without blinking. Against Wisconsin, however, they went with four linebackers and shut down the Badger running game. This defense is just as capable of handling a dynamic passing attack as it is a dynamic running attack. And the more important thing is that they look like they can handle a perfectly balanced attack as well.

10. The Ohio State Buckeyes respond well.

Early in the week I asked Ryan Day what the most adversity his team has had to overcome this season. He talked about the difficulties of practice, which gives you an idea of just how lopsided the games have been this season. In this one, however, there was some actual adversity, even though if you blinked, you missed it. The Buckeyes went three-and-out to start the third quarter, then had a punt blocked, then gave up a quick touchdown to the Badgers to make it 10-7 with 12:08 left in the third quarter. Nerves began to appear — at least in the stands. But the Buckeyes kept doing what they do and scored touchdowns on their next four drives. Generally, you just hope your team can respond to a touchdown with a touchdown of their own. Scoring four in a row might be considered overkill, but this year that’s just what we call playing football the Ryan Day way.

18 Responses

  1. Great post, ten observations:
    1. Taking a 10-0 led into half time was the same as a 20 or 27-0 lead into half time without the wind and rain & as usual the points were scored in the 2nd Q.
    2. There is only one team that can beat OSU and that is OSU. The blocked punt and what I call a once in a season throw to Taylor was the only score WI got. Should OSU not turn the ball over, it will be extremely difficult for any team to beat. yet hang with OSU.
    3. Trap games come when teams have weaknesses; At IA, poor LB play, poor passing, Bosa’s ejection, etc. At PUR, we outgained them, but a horrible running game, a gassed D, and anemic red zone execution were too much. I don’t see that this year, but arrogance and lack of focus can lead to one.
    4. 3 rushing TD’s were book end by CO’s TD receptions, but on all three TD runs. we gashed WI, running for 8+ yards and for the most part untouched!
    5. OSU’s got juice, it just wasn’t the yardage, but it was Dobbin’s late run that went for another 6 yards down the side line that broke WI’s back as he refused to go out of bounds, or look at Teague’s passionate run when the game was mostly on ice, and take in the celebration of the 55 yard or 49 yard FG kick and the brotherhood on display.
    6. WI got most of its sacks the first half & the first drive of the 2nd half. Most of that could be attributed to conservative or limited passing mainly due to the weather, when our O went on a roll, probably mid way through the 2nd quarter, Fields had a lot of time, and all of his runs were positive.
    7. It’s just not our balanced O, but our OL that wears down all. It seems like do the score board carnage the first half (except in windy rain) and do the ground game damage in the second half and grind the clock down. What would happen if we would go full tilt the entire game? Sort of scary.
    8. Our D really limits any sort of big plays, sound tackling, speed and discipline wins the day.
    9. The season is a mixture of really good talent, really good depth, mixed with really good coaching in every phase. The difference between 2018 and 2019? Our LB and OL line play!
    10. Finally, as long as OSU is locked in, it will be hard for us to be anywhere below 2 for the playoffs.

  2. There are so many positives after a great win like this. Watching the Buckeyes pull away for a huge victory was very satisfying. My biggest concern is the number of sacks allowed by our offensive line. I hope they take advantage of the bye week to shore up their protection packages.

    1. Most of the sacks occurred in the first quarter and the first half during the rain and wind. Fields was more concerned about throwing a pick. True the OL needs to be better, but for the last 2 drives of the first half and basically the last 5, we scored and the last one we ran the clock out while driving the ball and during that time, very little if any pressure was put on him in the backfield.

  3. Great job, Tony. You hit lots of homers here, thoroughly outplaying the Nationals today, just as the Astros did. I thought of a great article for you to write this week, but since I didn’t type it up right away, it escaped to the land of missing socks. Oh well, you’re on your own.

  4. This team gave Wisconsin a little of its own medicine. For once, they were on the receiving end of a ground game they could not stop.
    Both punters seemed to take an eternity to punt. Good thing we stopped having to punt. It was wet, but they need to practice it and do a better job.
    It was a great game.

  5. The 11th thing we learned – Justin Fields is a tough, resilient player. He took some really hard hits and came back to play well. Fields inspires confidence in this Buckeye team and they showed it to great advantage against Wisconsin.

  6. The Buckeyes have the Bullet position, AND, they have the PREDATOR position. Watched the replay of the game. Holy smokes is Chase Young just flat out the best of the best of the last 20 years in CFB regardless of position. They know he’s coming and there’s just not a damned thing any team can do about it.

  7. 1. Dont let Maryland be a trap game 2. Beat PSU 3. Pay attention, michigan is awake.

    1. TTUN beat an annually over-rated Notre Dame. That’s not saying much of anything.

      1. I have seen inferior michigan teams ruin our NC hopes several times…and if they have momentum going into The Game, they will do so again if we play them like its our last game ever!

        1. James is spot on, ND struggled to beat VA that just got dumped by a lousy LOU. team. What do you mean like it’s our last game ever?

          1. UM is a 3rd place BIG team, and they are more akin to “fitful sleepers” than a team that’s awake. The UM stuff where they halted our NC hopes is from a different generation. At least the reality that OSU competes for NCs while UM doesn’t, hasn’t changed.

          2. I meant we will have to play that game with extreme passion and intensity…cant even take it slightly for granted.

            1. Longtime fan and Christopher Perry: Spot on. In other words this is MI’s Super Bowl and a one game that can define their year as successful as look at what we did to this superb OSU team.

  8. We learned that Chase Young reads Tony Gerdeman’s every word and took offense at being a bonus pick not to have a sack. Gerd is therefore requested to do that the rest of the season, that the NCAA mark of 24 sacks in a year is utterly obliterated.

    1. i think Derrick Thomas holds the NCAA mark for sacks at 27 for Alabama(?) Anyway Chase Young is an awesome force and deserves the nickname the predator. Yet, I have to say that the best defensive player I ever saw in college was Derrick Thomas – I know I’m not supposed to say that on this board – but I think you mentioned that in all your years of watching pro and college football this is the best performance you’ve seen. I love what Chase did, but for me, I saw Derrick Thomas wreak havoc on everybody. Go Bucks!

      1. You’re correct on Thomas’ collegiate career sack record of 27. The ESPiN article did say within the past 20 or so years. I saw Thomas play and while impressive, just isn’t what Young is doing. I get where you’re coming from and respect the difference of opinion.
        We can also talk about Jack Tatum’s dominance as well. What puts Young over-the-top imo is today’s athletes are about the peak human beings can attain w/out genetic modification or cyborgs. The players he’s destroying are cared for by a battery of staff, medical and training, that shape all of ’em into monsters guys in Thomas’ day couldn’t imagine. Doesn’t take anything away from what Thomas did – I’m still old-school enough to have Johnny Unitas as the best QB in the history of the game – but at a position where raw overcoming is the objective we can at least agree that Chase is fairly drawing comparisons.

      2. Thojenningsolv,
        Curiously, Thomas is NOT credited w/the NCAA record, as it only became an official stat in 2000 so the ‘record’ is 24.

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