COLUMBUS – After Ohio State’s 38-7 win over Wisconsin on Saturday, the Badgers’ coach Paul Chryst sounded a lot like the coaches of the first seven teams on the undefeated Buckeyes’ schedule.
He came into the game knowing No. 3 OSU (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) was very good. But what it did to his No. 13-ranked team (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) showed him just how talented the Buckeyes are.
It took Ohio State, which led only 10-7 early in the third quarter, a while to assert its dominance. But once it did, a game that had appeared to possibly being on its way to being close to the finish, ended up resembling OSU’s first seven games, which it won by an average of 41.7 points a game.
And the Buckeyes didn’t just beat the Badgers. They beat them at their own game, whose foundation has long included being the biggest, toughest team, running the ball and having the best running back on the field.
Wisconsin came into the game leading the country in fewest points allowed (7.6 a game) and Ohio State was second (8.0). The Badgers also led the country in total yards allowed (193.9 per game) and OSU was second.
Ohio State scored 38 points. It had 431 yards total offense and rushed for 264 yards. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 163 yards and scored two touchdown, more than tripling the output of Wisconsin standout Jonathan Taylor, who had 52 yards on 20 carries.
And Ohio State defensive end Chase Young had four sacks, two of them strip sacks that produced fumbles in the second half.
“When you lose the way we did, you can’t sit up here and say we were more physical,” Chryst said about the role reversal.
OSU coach Ryan Day said, “ We had to be tough. We had to come out and play gritty.
“This just goes to show you the potential and how tough we can be. I think we’re athletic, I think we’re talented, but when you come into the game like this and play this hard against this kind of a defense, coming off a loss for them, and this type of environment, to win like we did, I think it goes to show you how tough we are and that we have the capability to play anybody in the country,” he said.
Both teams began the game playing cautiously on a windy, rainy day with Ohio State being especially careful when it did not throw a pass until its 12th offensive play with a minute left in the first quarter.
OSU scored twice in the final 6:52 of the first half to go up 10-0 at halftime.
Blake Haubeil’s 49-yard field goal with 6:52 left in the first half gave the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead.That lead grew to 10-0 when Fields connected with Olave for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the first half.
With Ohio State receiving the second half kickoff it appeared ready to deliver a knockout punch. But a partially blocked punt after Ohio State’s first series of the half set Wisconsin up at OSU’s 30-yard line and three plays later the Badgers got their only touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 10-7.
But Ohio State answered. And answered and answered and kept answering. OSU outscored the Badgers 28-0 over the last 25 minutes of the game.
Ohio State scored touchdowns on its next four possessions after Wisconsin’s touchdown. And Wisconsin’s four drives after its touchdown ended in two lost fumbles and two punts.
OSU’s lead grew to 17-7 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Fields with 9:34 left in the third quarter at the end of an 8-play, 75-yard drive.
A 9-yard touchdown run by Dobbins raised the lead to 24-7 with 6:28 left in the third quarter. Dobbins’ 14-yard touchdown run made it 31-7 early in the fourth quarter and Olave’s second touchdown catch of the day put OSU in front 38-7 with 7:29 left in the game.
Ohio State’s offensive line also raised its level of play in the second half. It allowed five sacks, but four of those came in the first half and the other was on OSU’s first possession of the second half.
Fields, whose running was a bigger part of OSU’s offense early in the game than it usually is, said, “ I think we were doing pretty good at the beginning but it would be like one play would be a big loss. So I think that kind of affected the overall drive. But I think in the second quarter we kind of got it together and we played well.
“I think in all honesty we could have put up 50. I think if the weather was different I think we could have thrown the ball more and put up way more points than we did. Overall I’m just glad we got the win and we’re 8-0,” he said.
“I think the team definitely has more confidence now, but we can’t get complacent at all. We have to keep working because we know there can be one week where we can slip up. And of course nobody wants that to happen so we just keep on rolling and just keep on practicing.”