There were a lot of touchdowns scored by the Buckeyes against the Wisconsin Badgers, seven of them to be exact. So, since we live in a listicle world, we are breaking them down, scientifically, of course.
And since this is my column, I reserve the right to change my judging criteria week to week, heck, even touchdown to touchdown. In some cases, I will judge a play by its importance in the grand scheme of the game, others will be by the degree of difficulty, backstory, and sheer entertainment value.
If you disagree with my ranking (which my six+ years here at LGHL tells me you absolutely will), feel free to share your list in the comments below.
Ok, now, without further ado, drumroll, please.........
Seventh Place: Touchdown No. 4
Miyan Williams 3-Yard Run
I mean, does it get much easier than that from the running back perspective? Miyan could have skipped into the end zone on this one thanks to incredible blocking from the offensive line. That unit has taken a bit of criticism early in the season due to what some consider inconsistent run blocking.
They have been incredible in pass protection, but some still wanted to see a dominant, physical, and — most importantly — tough. Against Wisconsin last night, the o-line showed that they absolutely are tough, potentially dominant unit against a big, strong defensive line. Do the 2022 Badgers have the best d-line in program history? Probably not, but they are still really good, and the OSU offensive line had next to zero issues with them
7th Place: Miyan Williams 3-Yard Run
|6.25||Offensive line blocking, play design||Literally zero defensive involvement, short run|
Sixth Place: Touchdown No. 1
Miyan Williams 2-Yard Run
This one is a little more impressive on the strength of Miyan’s, well, strength. The interior offensive line got a really nice push inside, even though Paris Johnson Jr. whiffed allowing a lineman to break into the backfield.
Despite that fact, Miyan did what Miyan does best and absolutely bulldozed his way to more yards (and points) than seems possible as the play unfolds.
6th Place: Miyan Williams 2-Yard Run
|6.75||Miyan's strength||Short run, PJJ whiff|
Fifth Place: Touchdown No. 7
Emeka Egbuka 32-Yard from C.J. Stroud
By far the longest touchdown of the day, this appears to be a fairly basic pitch and catch between and quarterback and wide receiver who are just way more talented than the opposing defense. As Kirk Herbstreit notes following the play, once the safety moves up, perhaps momentarily drawn in by the play-action, the touchdown has already essentially been scored.
Emeka Egbuka beats his man and C.J. Stroud delivers a bullet perfectly in stride and it’s off to the races.
5th Place: Emeka Egbuka 32-Yard from C.J. Stroud
|7.16||Reading defense, route-execution||Defense was nearly non-existent|
Fourth Place: Touchdown No. 3
Cade Stover 2-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
Ok, here is where things start to get interesting. I honestly had a difficult time ordering touchdowns No. 2, 3, and 4. I think depending on the moment, I could have rearranged them in any other order and still been perfectly satisfied with their placement.
However, I am going with tight end Cade Stover’s second touchdown on the day here in fourth place. I’ll talk about this a little bit later in the list, but I love the play design here and Ryan Day’s willingness to call it so close to the goal line. One of the very few issues that the Buckeye offense has had in the past few years was red zone execution, specifically converting possessions into touchdowns.
The head coach has clearly made it a point to not let that happen again this year as this was a really fun play that obviously caught everybody in white jerseys off guard. The offense lined up in a very conventional short-yardage set, and instead of doing what the Buckeyes normally do and hand it off, they got the ball to Cade Stover who two Badger defenders thought so little of that they left him completely unguarded to waltz into the endzone completely unbothered.
4th Place: Cade Stover 2-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
|8.6||Beautiful play design||Defense was so surprised, they ignored Stover; easy short yardage pass|
Third Place: Touchdown No. 5
Julian Fleming 12-Yard from C.J. Stroud
Even after having already said I was going with the Stover TD for fourth place, I am tempted to swap them, but I will keep Julian Fleming’s touchdown catch here in third on the strength of the punishment that he dished out to two Wisconsin defenders to get across the goal line.
Not only did he lay out two Badgers en route to paydirt, but he actually didn’t even go to the ground as a result of the impact. I have been open about how much Fleming’s return to the lineup has touched me, so to see him continue to be a fixture in the offense and to be able to be as physical as he has been is really gratifying given his injury history.
So, while the play design might not be as impressive as the two tight end touchdowns that are sandwiching it, the toughness and execution make me very comfortable putting it in third place this week.
Third Place: Julian Fleming 12-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
|8.88||Toughness, determination to get into the endzone; short yardage execution||Short yardage, easy pitch-and-catch|
Second Place: Touchdown No. 2
Cade Stover 13-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
Similarly to the Stover TD at No. 4, this is the type of play design that I don’t think we’ve seen enough from the Buckeyes since Day took over calling plays. And, don’t get me wrong, while I think that he should bring in a new offensive coordinator to call plays, I don’t think that Day has been bad at that part of his job, but I do think that we haven’t seen these types of wrinkles, especially in short yardage, as a regular part of his scheme.
But, on this play, Day calls a play that exploits his offense’s normal tendencies and forces practically the entire Wisconsin defense to one side of the field. From there, Stroud calmly turns his body, sets his feet, and throws a dime to Stover.
And if the design and execution weren’t enough, from there, in an effort to beat a pair of Wisconsin defenders to the end zone, Stover is flipped ass over tea kettle over the goal line and still manages to hang on. Just a thoroughly entertaining and impressive play from top to bottom.
2nd Place: Cade Stover 13-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
|9.38||Incredible, creative play design; perfect execution; maintained possession despite violent flip and fall||Short yardage, easy toss for Stroud|
First Place: Touchdown No. 6
Emeka Egbuka 8-Yard from C.J. Stroud
I know that this is a pretty short-yardage pass, and I usually deduct points for plays of similarly short distances, but this is the type of pass that practically only 0.01% of college football players can make, and it is so deceptively difficult that I think it deserves as many points as I can give it in good conscience.
There is absolutely no reason that this ball should not be intercepted by one of the two Wisconsin defenders who appeared to have Egbuka absolutely blanketed. Well, I take that back; there is one reason: C.J. Stroud has a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder where an arm should otherwise be.
The Buckeye quarterback not only puts the ball in a spot where only his guy can catch it, but he throws it at such a rate of speed that the defenders just don’t have enough time to react and make a play on it. Heck, even Egbuka seems either to have his hands hurt a bit after the play, or is just dumbfounded that his QB attempted that pass in the first place.
Whatever the case may be, from throw to catch, this was a thing of beauty and reminds you just how special Stroud’s arm is. Yes, he has fantastic talent at wide receiver and tight end, but he absolutely deserves to be the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy as well.
1st Place: Emeka Egbuka 8-Yard Reception from C.J. Stroud
|9.89||Pass nearly broke the speed of sound, thrown in shockingly small window, impressive hands to hold on||Game already out of reach, short yardage|
One thing that I will note is that in the past two weeks, we have not seen the Buckeyes cashing in on long-scoring plays. And while that might be concerning for some, I actually think the fact that they have converted so many red zone trips into touchdowns is a good thing. We know that C.J. Stroud and company are capable of hitting home runs, so those will come. But, the fact that they are also executing at an exceptionally high level when the field is most compressed shows an important maturation in the development of this offense.