This was it. This was going to be the week that No. 3 Ohio State was *finally* tested against a tough opponent. For the entire first half against Wisconsin it looked as though that was going to be the case, as a wet and soggy contest saw the two teams separated by just 10 points at the break. After the Badgers scored a touchdown in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10-7, OSU began to flex its muscle, and it would go on to rattle off 28 unanswered points to rout the No. 13 team in the nation 38-7.
The No. 1 ranked defense in the country was no match to slow down a Buckeye offense clicking on all cylinders, with the rain seemingly having a bigger impact on the game than the opposing players. In the end, the Silver Bullets were immaculate, and the Ohio State run game bulldozed Wisconsin into submission as the Scarlet and Gray-clad boys in Columbus moved to 8-0 on the year.
Stocks, as you might imagine, are still soaring incredibly high.
Chase Young, DE: It almost feels like selling Young short to even call the junior defensive end a blue chip stock. Young has completely transcended the stock market, playing at a level maybe unseen by any of the stellar defensive talent at Ohio State before him. Week in and week out, Young has dominated the line of scrimmage on every snap he’s played this season, and that was no more apparent against Wisconsin.
They say big time players make big time plays, and boy did the 6-foot-5, 265 pound edge rusher live up to that mantra. Young had a career day against the Badgers, piling up four sacks and five tackles for loss — both school records — while also forcing two fumbles. The opposing offensive line had no answers for the DE, as no amount of extra attention seemed to be enough to slow down the man they call The Predator. Young is far and away the best player in all of college football.
J.K. Dobbins, RB: Coming into this Big Ten matchup, all the running back talk was centered around Jonathan Taylor. Everyone wondered whether the Buckeye defense would be able to slow down the Heisman hopeful, but did anybody stop to think if the Wisconsin defense could slow down J.K. Dobbins? The junior RB looked like he took exception to the lack of attention, and in retaliation ran the Badgers directly out of the building.
In what was his biggest game of the season in terms of yards from scrimmage, Dobbins racked up 163 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns, while also picking up 58 yards on three receptions to total 221 yards on the day. In the wet conditions, Ohio State leaned heavily on the run in the second half. With Wisconsin needing to respect the threat of the QB run, it was Dobbins who came away the biggest beneficiary as he cut and stiff-armed his way all over the Badger defense.
Chris Olave, WR: The Ohio State receiving core was down a man with the absence of Austin Mack, but all that meant was more playing time for its breakout star receiver Chris Olave. There weren’t many yards to be gained through the air with the inclement weather, but whenever a big passing play was needed, Olave was always there. The only receiver on the roster to catch more than one pass against the Badgers, the sophomore wideout finished with seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Olave has been spectacular for the Buckeyes all year, and has quickly become a favorite target for his quarterback. With 27 catches for 402 yards and eight touchdowns on the year, Olave now leads the team in both receiving yards and touchdown receptions. The sophomore really came into his own in last year’s Michigan game, and ever since has been the most consistent and dependable wideout in one of the deepest units on the roster.
Justin Fields, QB: The conditions were certainly not ideal for any quarterback on Saturday, but the sophomore transfer QB still managed to get the job done when called upon. The final stat line, while good, doesn't look all too impressive. Fields finished completing 12-of-22 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The ball just wasn’t coming out right early on, as the rain forced a few of Fields’ early passes to sail a bit high. There were a couple drops from the wide receivers on the ledger as well, but it was an overall great performance from the Buckeye QB.
Fields was fantastic extending plays with his legs, whether he was taking off an running — highlighted by a 21-yard tuck and run in the second half — or looking for an open receiver. He was beat up on a bit more than he was accustomed to, as a big Wisconsin front sacked the young QB five times, and appeared to be playing through a minor back injury late in the game. All-in-all, Fields made the big throws when he had to, and did more than enough to help his team get the victory.
The Offensive Line: The Wisconsin defensive line is no joke, as the Badgers came into the game near the top of the leaderboards in sacks. While the Ohio State o-line struggled a bit in pass protection, allowing five sacks of Fields, it was an overall impressive performance against the top defense in the country. Anything they lacked in the passing game, they more than made up for in run blocking, as they paved the way for a 264-yard performance on the ground.
Aside from the few plays where there were breakdowns, the offensive line looked incredibly solid and was able to win the line of scrimmage for the vast majority of the contest. For a unit that had to replace a bunch of starters from the year prior, the slobs, as they are affectionately known, have been able to bully opposing defensive lines and keep pressure off their quarterback against even the toughest of defenses thrown at them throughout this season. The run blocking speaks for itself, as they have had a huge impact on Dobbins’ big year.
Bad Weather: The story of the game was really the harsh conditions and how Ryan Day and the Ohio State offense would respond. The Buckeyes tried real hard in the first half to get things moving in the passing game, but it was simply too wet to find any consistency. The move to the ground and pound in the second half paid dividends, as OSU would eventually hang 38 on the nations top defense.
According to Fields, however, it could have been an even bigger blowout had Mother Nature cooperated. “Our motto as an offense is nobody can stop us but us. In all honesty, we could've put up 50,” said the Buckeye QB. Fields felt as though the weather and some self-inflicted wounds early in the game had more of an impact on the offense than the opposing defense. As a result, “rain” will be regarded as the best way to slow down Ohio State moving forward. Do with that what you will, opposing defensive coordinators.
(Sell) Ohio State can’t kick. It is no secret that the Buckeyes have not exactly showcased the kicking game in recent years. Nothing has been automatic when the field goal unit lines up, not matter the distance. However, things are different this season, as the good vibes from the rest of the team have carried over into the special teams unit.
Blake Haubeil has seemingly found his stroke. After nailing a career-high 55-yarder against Northwestern a week ago, the junior kicker hit an even more impressive kick against Wisconsin — knocking a 49-yarder through the uprights through whipping wind and rain. On the season, Haubeil is 6-of-8, but a perfect 3-of-3 on kicks over 40 yards and has not missed an extra point (46-of-46).
(Buy) Chase Young’s Heisman candidacy. A defensive player has not won the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997, and even he played some offensive snaps as well as returned kicks to add to his resume. If it was at all possible for a defensive player to win it in today’s game, and if the award is truly supposed to be given the the nation’s best player, then Chase Young should absolutely get an invitation to New York this year.
The defensive end now has 13.5 sacks on the year, with 15.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. Ohio State’s defense has been spectacular, but it would be nowhere near as dominant without the services of its generational talent edge rusher. Young is a premier player in college football, and should not get overlooked just because he plays on the other side of the ball.
(Buy) Dobbins > Taylor. A hot take that maybe isn’t so hot. It has become a bit of a trend that a highly touted Wisconsin running back runs into an Ohio State buzzsaw, getting outplayed but a large margin by the Buckeye back. In 2014, it was Ezekiel Elliot out-gaining Melvin Gordon 220 to 76 on six less carries, with Zeke also having two scores to Gordon’s zero. In both instances of Dobbins vs. Taylor, Dobbins has dominated.
In the 2017 Big Ten Championship, Dobbins had 174 yards on 17 carries, while Taylor could only muster 41 yards on 15 totes. The 2019 matchup was more of the same, as Dobbins out-gained Taylor 163-52 on the exact same amount of carries. Taylor is a great running back, and certainly one of the best in the country, but the best running back in the Big Ten — and maybe the nation — resides in Columbus, Ohio.