Wisconsin was without its star player on defense, Chris Borland. Though the Badgers’ defense is highly regarded in the B1G TEN, its descriptive stats are rather inflated by its competition. With Ohio State rolling of late and coming off a needed bye, I think we expected Ohio State to capitalize and put some serious points on the board and hope the Buckeyes could hold Wisconsin’s offense to three or four touchdowns if Ohio State could score five. As it turned out, the game devolved into a defensive match with each side’s defense holding the opposition to one touchdown through the duration of the game. However, a final Wisconsin score with eight seconds left to play in regulation pushed the game into overtime. Ohio State’s offense eventually woke up in the top half of the first overtime session and Wisconsin could not respond. The Buckeyes spoiled Wisconsin’s senior day, 21-14, to remain undefeated on the season.
Whatever was going to happen in the final seconds of regulation, and in overtime, I was going to use the first part of this post to rake the offense over the figurative coals a bit. Ohio State’s offense was doing great the past few weeks, leading to some (warranted) optimism about what we could do against a Badgers defense that really doesn’t have a good defensive line, and which would be missing Chris Borland. The offensive coaching staff even had a week to prepare, something. It’s worth asking what happened. From the beginning, it seemed apparent that Tom Herman and Urban Meyer were going to make Braxton Miller the focal point of the plan for this game. For whatever reason, Miller looked disinterested in the game he was playing, ran with hesitation, did not make good reads, and was, really, otherwise hurting the team. That third down play late into the second quarter was one of the dumbest sequences I’ve seen Ohio State football commit. Miller had 23 carries for 48 yards while Carlos Hyde had 15 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns. In the future, Ohio State needs to get its tailbacks more involved in the offense and find ways to minimize the workload of the quarterback. If Urban Meyer was serious about assimilating concepts from Chip Kelly, something like that is rather critical to incorporate into the offense.
The defense was a bit of a mixed bag. The defense really needed to shut down the rushing attack, though conceded 191 (!!) yards to Montee Ball in Ball’s final home game in Camp Randall. The linebackers really struggled in coverage. While Boren has been solid in run support after making the transition to defense, him losing sight of Pedersen in stretches underscores that Boren really is a stop gap for a linebacker situation that needs immediate help. Given that Ohio State’s offense mustered only 61 (!!!!) yards in the second half, it’s any wonder how the Silver Bullets didn’t concede more points than it did. To that extent, that missed field goal to begin the fourth quarter was critical, which will help the case of the “Opposing Field Goal Kicker” in being Ohio State’s team MVP. Further, John Simon played as if tonight was his Senior Day. Simon had four sacks on the game.
Two teams that I’m not sure were evenly matched, but played evenly, were really separated by big plays that worked in Ohio State’s favor. The difference through regulation was that punt return for a touchdown by Philly Brown late in the first quarter. Special teams have defined the series of late, including the blocked punt last year, Wisconsin’s game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown, and Ray Small’s kickoff return for a touchdown the year before that. Second, Montee Ball being stood up on the goal line and fumbling into Christian Bryant’s hands was one of the better defensive events (for lack of better term) for Ohio State in many years, maybe since Chris Gamble’s pick six against Penn State in 2002. Not only did that secure the lead (for the moment), but it prevented Montee Ball from getting the record setting career touchdown mark that Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen were really wanting to see. I hold no ill will for Montee Ball and wish him well, but it was a bit gratifying to prevent him from getting that record on his senior day. We’re all trolls like that. Pushed into overtime, Ohio State finally put it together and Wisconsin couldn’t convert on 4th down against a tired defense.
With the win, Ohio State secures the Leaders Division Championship (which includes a trophy and t-shirts, if you’re interested) and moves to 11-0 on the season. However, that matters not right now. What matters is The Hate. It’s Hate Week. There’s no time for love, only a time for Hate. There’s no time for peace. It is too late. Death to michigan.