This past week, I heard a lot of crap from Wisconsin fans and college football fans in general. A couple of my buddies who are Wisconsin fans were unusually chippy, and there were more than a few folks who thought Wisconsin was going to come in to Columbus and hand Urban Meyer his first loss as the Buckeyes coach.
Ohio State took control early, and even as Wisconsin fought their way back in to it, I really wasn't worried. OSU stuffed Wisconsin's running game all night, and Joel Stave was eventually going to remember he was Joel Stave. When he did, it was the Ohio State faithful that was jumping around the Horseshoe, and turning it in to a House of Pain for Wisconsin yet again:
I'm the cream of the crop, I rise to the top
I never eat a pig 'cause a pig is a cop
Or better yet a terminator
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger
Trying to play me out like as if my name was Sega
But I ain't going out like no punk bitch
Get used to one style and you know I might switch
It up up and around, then buck buck get down
Put out your head then you wake up in the Dawn of the Dead
I'm coming to get ya, I'm coming to get ya
Spitting out lyrics homie I'll wet ya
See what I did there? Your conference opening SMR follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Braxton Miller, QB: Yeah, he kind of cooled off after his FOURTH TOUCHDOWN PASS, but did I mention that in his first action back after missing the better part of three games that he had a pretty impressive game? Seriously, 17/25 for 198 yards and four TD's, with another 83 yards rushing is pretty doggone impressive.
Philly Brown, WR: Brown had a great game, nabbing eight balls for 88 yards and two scores. The first one was an electric, momentum changing score at the end of the first half, and the second one was one where he bailed out Miller on a third and goal, and it was the score that put the game out of reach for the Buckeyes.
The Run Defense: With the exception of just a couple runs, Ohio State did a magnificent job of holding Wisconsin's running game in check. The big worry heading into this game was Ohio State's inexperienced front seven against the Badgers ridiculously good running game. A juggernaut that had run for over 1,100 yards in three games was held to only 104 all night, with an average of only 3.9 yards per carry. Ohio State's strategy was evident--contain Melvin Gordon and James White, and make Joel Stave beat you. Although Wisconsin got close, it worked.
Cameron Johnston, P: Hey, if the punt is the most important play in football, Johnston had the six most important plays of the game. Okay, I'll concede they weren't the most important, but each one of his six punts pinned Wisconsin inside the 20. You can't really do much better than that.. OSU's defense is improving, and it's going to be tough to drive 80 yards on a consistent basis, and Wisconsin couldn't do it tonight.
Carlos Hyde, RB: I really liked seeing Hyde back in there, and he ran pretty well, all things considered. He started off very strong and sort of tailed off in the second half. And he got stuffed by Wisconsin's Chris Borland on the goal line, which kind of surprised me--seriously, I'll take Hyde to make that last yard nine times out of ten, but a hat tip to Borland there--that was a money play on the goal line. Still, 85 yards on only 17 carries was a good night of work.
Ryan Shazier, LB: Shazier was one of the big reasons Wisconsin's running backs were held in check all night. He had nine tackles, to include 2.5 tackles for loss. It was another strong effort for Shazier, and one we've come to expect week in and week out.
Devin Smith, WR: Smith wasn't as active as Philly Brown was, but he did have four catches for 50 yards, and hauled in Miller's second TD pass. His other three grabs all went for first downs, and they were all third down plays that extended drives.
Jordan Hall, RB: Urban Meyer said it was a 'coach's decision' not to use Hall more, which if true was a dumb decision. He only got one carry for five yards all night, and it seemed that in the second half he would have been well suited to spell Hyde, who flatlined in the second half.
Bradley Roby, CB: I figured that going into this game Roby would be manned up on Jared Abbrederis most of the game, and I also thought that it was a favorable matchup for OSU. I was only half right. True, Roby started out strong, and had an interception on a terribly thrown ball by Joel Stave in the third quarter, but everything else in between? Yeah, not so much. Abbrederis was open all night long, and Roby was always two steps behind.
Buy: Ohio State's first half offense. With Miller back, it was crisp, efficient, and attacking. Hyde ran well, Miller was throwing the ball well, and they had Wisconsin on their heels. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman did a very good job of mixing the pass and run, and you got the sense that OSU's offense was going to come out and steamroll Wisconsin in the second half.
Sell: Ohio State's second half offense. After the one yard Philly Brown score to put the good guys up 31-14, Ohio State quit attacking and seemed content to run the ball and kill the clock. The Buckeyes only attempted six passes in the second half, and only two in the fourth quarter. That strategy is all fine and good if you're making first downs, but OSU wasn't, and the defense was getting gassed.
Buy: Seeing Carlos Hyde getting a lot of action. Hyde just brings a power dimension that the Buckeyes ground game was missing, and I love watching him run between the tackles.
Sell: Not seeing Jordan Hall. Like I mentioned earlier, Hall and Hyde form a great 1-2 combination of power and speed. With OSU committed to running the ball, Hyde seemed to stall out a bit, and Hall might have been a good change of pace.
Buy: Braxton Miller's running ability. His speed brings a dimension that is tough to defend, and it was nice seeing him out there again, doing his thing.
Sell: Miller running the ball as much as he did. I get that it's a tough balancing act for Miller, but there were a few times on Saturday night that it seemed Miller was intent on running and trying to make something happen with his feet from the moment he got the ball in his hands. And he was just okay running it Saturday. He didn't seem to see the field as well as he normally does, and he flat out wasn't able to get first downs when he really needed to in the second half.
Buy: Saturday night games being HUGE for recruiting. I'm not going to steal the thunder of the best recruiting gurus on the Ohio State beat, but this was a huge weekend for recruiting, and if early tweets and comments are any indication, it was a very successful weekend for the Buckeyes.
Sell: The Nike Pro Combat Uniforms. Can we just be done with these? I really don't mind OSU getting alternate uniforms, but they're supposed to be cool looking. Now, I'll concede that the one OSU wore against Wisconsin is the best one of the series, but that's not saying much.
So the Buckeyes dispatch what many people feel is the biggest threat to the Leaders division supremacy, and now they head to Evanston for a meeting with Northwestern. Get past that game, and OSU should be prohibitive favorites the rest of the season, leading up to the Michigan game.
Get your popcorn ready, because it's about to get real interesting.