Buckeye Defense Shuts Down Badger Run Game

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wisconsin is one of those Big Ten teams with a strong identity — they do what they do, and they do it well. The Badgers are notorious for their ability to control the line of scrimmage on defense and on offense, they run the ball down a team’s throat.

The game on Saturday night was expected to be a game won in the trenches, with a major key of the game being Ohio State’s ability to stop the Badger run game.

On Saturday night, Ohio State found the formula, in an almost 2014 Big Ten Championship-esque fashion. Not only was Ohio State firing on all cylinders offensively, but its defense shut down any hint of offense Wisconsin could find.

Ohio State has been successfully defending the run so far this season, allowing an average of only 84 yards per game, with the highest amount of yards given up coming from Toledo’s 124 yards on the ground. But Wisconsin’s top 25 rushing offense was going to be a new challenge, with the Badgers averaging 218 yards per game on the ground.

Although Wisconsin finished the game with 192 rush yards, 75 of those came off of a touchdown run from sophomore running back Braelon Allen in the fourth quarter, with the second-string defense just entering the game. Without that run, Allen had 90 yards on 22 carries, for an average of just over four yards per carry.

At halftime, when the score was 31-7, Allen had just 36 yards on eight carries. Wisconsin as a team only had 47 yards rushing.

“I felt like our guys did a great job of gang tackling [on Allen],” Day said. “We had extra guys to the party to get him down.”

It seemed Ohio State on Saturday found the key to taking Wisconsin out of its own style of game, with the Buckeyes setting the tone on both sides of the ball.

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz had the potential to take advantage of his receivers deep with both of Ohio State’s starting cornerbacks being unavailable. But Mertz was unable to victimize Ohio State in the air and take advantage of the first-time starting corners down field.

Safety Tanner McCalister, who sat out last game against Toledo as an injury precaution, was a major disruptor of the Wisconsin offense. When the Badgers’ offense was in the red zone for the first time of the game at the end of the second quarter, it was McCalister with the pass break up that saved a deep-ball touchdown. It was also McCalister who gave Mertz his first interception of the night.

The Buckeyes had one sack, three tackles for loss, one interception, four pass break ups, and one quarterback hurry. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg led the team in tackles with 14 total tackles.

The Badgers scored two of their three touchdowns late in the second half of the game, but it was too little, too late. Wisconsin wasn’t able to find the offense it needed to keep up with Ohio State’s quarterback C.J. Stroud and his long list of offensive weapons, despite making a few explosive plays.

At halftime, Ohio State had 328 yards of offense which was good for 75 more than Wisconsin allowed in any of its first three games.

It was difficult for Wisconsin to play their game, running the ball coming from behind being off schedule offensively. The Buckeyes finished with 539 yards of total offense. But Wisconsin wasn’t able to respond, or even capitalize off of the Buckeyes’ mistakes enough to put an offensive performance together until it was too late.

5 Responses

  1. ya think? way to go out on a limb…:-)

  2. The stats don’t totally reflect OSU’s domination. This D looked sharper and at times can dominate, a few missed plays, but overall, Knowles has proven himself to be a serious candidate for coordinator of the year award.

    1. Kurt; Long time, no see. I agree with you but that one untouched 75 yarder just boggled my mind. I realize we had our second and third string guys in but just don’t understand that can happen with 5 DB’s in the game. I haven’t watched the replay yet but will be interested in see where they all were. Other than that, I agree our defense is doing great.

    2. You have any idea what injuries our starting CBs Brown and Burke are facing?

      Do you think Miyan Williams is secretly our coaching staffs number one running back? When we needed to run the ball and score against ND it was him in the game and the Wisconsin game was over at halftime and he did not play in the second half but Henderson played well into the 4th quarter.

      Do not want to see Williams injured again like last season. Any idea what his injury was last year?

      Thanks and Go Bucks!

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