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Five things learned from Ohio State’s dominating win over Wisconsin

Ohio State has two legit non-QB Heisman Trophy candidates.

Wisconsin v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Neither storms nor rain nor Badgers nor threat of upset stays these Buckeyes from the swift completion of their appointed touchdowns. It was an ugly weather day in Columbus on Saturday as the front formerly known as Tropical Storm Olga dumped buckets of rain on Ohio Stadium, but it didn’t seem to both the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes as they completely overwhelmed the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 38-7.

After the game, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields said that had the weather not been such a factor, they could have scored 50, but it is difficult to imagine OSU playing a more well-rounded game that what actually occurred.

Now that the Buckeyes have finally played a good team, there is a lot that we can learn from their performance. So, let’s look at five points that stood out from Saturday’s blowout victory.

1.) Ohio State is the most complete team in the country.

We asked on Twitter if the 2019 edition of the Buckeyes was the most complete in recent memory, and while the recency bias probably influenced the responses, it is an argument that deserves to be had.

However, an argument that doesn’t need to be had is that OSU is the most complete team in the country. Coming into this week, Ryan Day’s squad was the only team in the country to have both their offense (4) and defense (1) in the top-five of the SP+ rankings; they are also the only team to complete the feat in the conventional numbers, where they were No. 5 in total offense and second in total defense.

But, I do think that before this week, there was an argument to be made that those numbers could potentially be a bit inflated because of the relative weakness of their schedule thus far. However, following the 38-7 pummeling of Wisconsin, it will be very hard for even the most ardent of Buckeye deniers to claim that their position in the college football hierarchy this season isn’t warranted.

This isn’t to say that OSU has no flaws — both Day and his players default to saying that there are still things to fix — which should be scary to every team in the country.

2.) Chase Young is the best defensive player in the country and deserves to be in the Heisman discussion.

I mean, we already knew this, but for those unwashed outside of Buckeye Nation, they most certainly learned it on Saturday. Young went for six tackles, five of which were for loss, including four sacks and two forced fumbles. The junior end was undoubtedly the most dominate player on the field when OSU’s defense squared off with Wisconsin’s offense.

His ability to combine his speed and strength with incredible technique — as Urban Meyer explained in the pregame — makes him an absolutely frightening force coming from the outside. He is so frightening, in fact, that Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan decided that he would rather take a seat than to allow himself to be obliterated by The Predator.

Early in the game, Young also showed his versatility as he occasionally lined up at linebacker and just picked which hole he wanted to rush through. While it is practically an inevitability that the 2019 Heisman Trophy will go to a quarterback — Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, or Tua Tagovailoa if he comes back healthy — but when every objective observer declares that Young is the best player in the country, it should at least warrant an invitation to New York.

Young leads the country with 13.5 sacks, and is a half sack away from breaking Vernon Gholston’s single-season program record, and just 8.5 behind Mike Vrabel’s career record of 36; which is especially bonkers, considering that Young is only in his third — and almost certainly final — season with the Buckeyes.

The question is, will it be enough to warrant national consideration for the top individual prize in sports? One way that he could guarantee national attention is if he stays on pace to challenge Terrell Suggs’ single-season college football record of 24 sacks, which he set in 2004.

Currently, Young is on pace to deliver 20.25 sacks in the regular season, 23.625 including the Big Ten Championship game and a single bowl, and 25.3125 should Ohio State make the national championship game.

When you consider the fact that Young has played sparingly in the second half thus far in 2019, those numbers are even more impressive.

3.) J.K. Dobbins is the best running back in the country and deserves to be in the Heisman discussion.

Leading into Saturday’s game, we heard a lot about Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor being the best running back in the country. But, as they did in the 2017 B1G Title Game, the OSU defense shut J.T. down, allowing him only 52 yards on 20 carries.

In fact, it was Ohio State’s RB that proved to be the dominant offensive force in the game. Dobbins came into the game fourth nationally with 135.29 yards per game on the ground with a 7.07 yards per carry average.

Against the No. 1 rushing defense in the country, Dobbins ran for 163 yards on 20 carries for 8.2 yards per carry, and added three receptions for 58 yards. It was as stunning of a performance as Young’s was on the other side of the ball.

In the preseason, Dobbins was very open about the fact that even though he ran for 1,053 yards last season, that his performance during the 2018 campaign was a disappointment. A lot was made about Dobbins’ efforts to transform his body, but to me, his biggest improvement has been his patience and vision.

Dobbins has been in no rush to run up his blockers’ back sides, instead, he has remained steady in the backfield, waiting for holes to develop in front of him before taking off. Now, Dobbins is not the type of back who is going to run away from defenders. He’s fast, but not leave-you-in-my-dust fast.

However, what he has shown this season is that he is both fast and strong. He showed it earlier in season against Indiana when he scored a 26-yard run after seven Hoosiers got a hand on him. Then on Saturday, he used a nasty stiff-arm at the line of scrimmage to propel himself to a 34-yard gain.

Again, a QB is gonna win the Heisman, but Dobbins is the best running back in the country, and his play and importance to his team deserve to be recognized, and if there is any justice in this world (there’s not) he and Chase will both crash the Heisman party.

4.) You can’t run against Ohio State’s defense.

Coming into Saturday’s game, the Badgers were averaging 235.43 rushing yards per game, with Taylor accounting for 136.71 of those; their averages will be dropping following this game. Wisconsin rushed for a total of 83 yards (113 sack adjusted), and as I said before, Taylor went for just 52 on 20 carries for a 2.6 yards per carry average.

Conversely, the Buckeyes came into the game allowing only 92.71 rushing yards per game, and that will obviously be decreasing as well. But, while the numbers are impressive, what is even more so is how Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley’s defense does it.

It’s not a surprise that it is difficult for opposing offenses to run up the middle against OSU, given the dominance that Larry Johnson’s defensive line has displayed. But what is most eye-opening to me is how everyone on the defense supports the run defense.

In addition to the incredibly stout d-line, the linebackers — yes, the linebackers — gave up very little to the Badgers, employing a four-LB look at times against the run-heavy offense in the driving rain.

But also, there is how the secondary is playing in run support. On the rare occasions that Wisconsin tried to stretch the field either with a jet sweep or a simple, wide run, it almost always ended in a loss, because there was a convoy of Buckeyes there to stop the back, usually with someone from each of the three levels in or around the stop.

If Wisconsin of all teams can’t run on OSU, good luck to teams trying to run against this defense the rest of the year.

5.) Ohio State has a legit weapon at kicker.

In the second quarter, the Buckeyes were in a dog fight with the Badgers and moving the ball for the first time in the game. Ahead of a third-and-16 from inside Wisconsin’s 35, on Twitter, I advocated for trying to pick up a chunk of the yardage in order to then go for it on fourth down.

However, Dobbins picked up a single yard on third down and rather than punting, Day sent out Blake Haubeil to attempt a 49-yard field goal in the driving rain. This is what happened:

Between this and his 55-yarder at Northwestern last week, Haubeil has proven that he is a legitimate weapon in the Buckeyes’ arsenal, and one that cannot be undervalued as the Scarlet and Gray play the better teams in the back half of their regular season, a potential Big Ten Championship game, and a bowl and/or the College Football Playoff.

It’s been a little more than a decade since the Buckeyes had a kicker who could be relied on to hit field goals from distance. In addition to Mike Nugent from 2002-04 — who had eight FGs from 50+ yards — Aaron Pettrey hit six from 2006-08.

It’s unlikely that the Buckeyes will need to rely on a kicker against Maryland or Rutgers in their first two games after next week’s bye, but, when they return home from Piscataway, NJ, they very well might end up needing to get three against Penn State, and points from outside the red zone are always appreciated against the likes of Alabama, Clemson and/or LSU.

Ohio State will be off next Saturday, and then will host Maryland before traveling to Rutgers; so they’ll be off for the next three Saturdays. Then, the Buckeyes will close the regular season with Penn State in The ‘Shoe and on the road against a suddenly competent-looking Michigan.