Buckeye Defense Answered Call to Stop Potent Badger Running Game
By Rob Ogden
Wisconsin has never lost a game in which Badger running back James White rushed for 100 yards or more, so slowing the senior - and his partner - was high on the Buckeyes' to-do list Saturday night.
White was limited to eight carries for 31 yards - 17 of which came on one fourth-quarter touchdown run. White's backfield rushing mate, sophomore Melvin Gordon, finished as the Badgers' leading rusher with 79 yards on 15 carries, by far his lowest output of the season.
Prior to Saturday, Gordon averaged 156 yards per game, and hadn't rushed for fewer than 140 yards in any game this season.
Michael Bennet, Curtis Grant and Joey Bosa converge to stop James White.
Photo by Dan Harker
As a team, Wisconsin came into the game ranked third in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 250 yards per game.
"The game plan shifted early on them in the game," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "We held (Gordon) to 74 total yards. We started hitting them in the backfield a little bit. He's a tremendous player. We contained them."
During last season's overtime game in Madison, Badger running back Montee Ball torched the Buckeyes for 197 yards on the ground. As a team, Wisconsin finished with only 104 yards Saturday. The Badgers' lowest previous rushing output of the season was 231 yards in a loss to Arizona State.
Ryan Shazier and Michael Bennett combine to stop Melvin Gordon.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"The longest run from scrimmage looked like it was 17 yards. And that's not like them," Meyer said. "I mean, I think doggone they're averaging 12, 14 yards a carry."
The lack of rushing production wasn't the only statistic uncharacteristic of the Badgers on Saturday.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave completed a season-high 24 passes for a career-high 295 yards through the air. Prior to Saturday's game, the Badgers averaged fewer than 200 yards passing per game.
The surprisingly balanced Badger offense caught a few Buckeye defenders off guard.
"It was surprising because we thought they were gonna come out and run, so we just had to make adjustments," sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington said.
“I think a lot of that had to do with us. We prepared this week to stop the run and we did. They had to adjust and made the decision to throw the ball more.”
Though the Ohio State defense wasn't completely unprepared for Wisconsin's surprisingly effective passing attack. Sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry said the Badgers' red zone numbers revealed that they might be more balanced on offense than most predicted.
Meyer said the Buckeyes' inability to get pressure in the Wisconsin backfield allowed Stave to have his career day throwing the ball.
"The thing that hurt us a little bit was we only got two sacks," he said. "They threw the ball 34 times. That's not acceptable. (Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis), he's got my vote for all Big Ten. He did an incredible job."
Abbrederis was one player that didn't surprise the Buckeyes. The senior receiver had a career-high 207 yards receiving. The last time Abbrederis was in Ohio Stadium, he had a then-career-high 113 yards receiving and two scores.
Abbrederis became the first Wisconsin player to record two 100-yard receiving games against Ohio State.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.