Ohio State Pummels Bucky Badger: Big Championship Full Recap

The last memory most Buckeye fans have of the Big Ten Championship game, up until Saturday night, was Braxton Miller being stuffed short on 4th down, shortly followed by the infamous picture of Coach Meyer sitting on a golf cart eating Papa John’s pizza. It was a heartbreaking night for the Buckeye head coach, his team, and all of Buckeye nation. Win and you’re in. However, the Spartans of Michigan State had a much different plan as they played spoiler to the Buckeyes national title hopes.

Fast forward to Saturday December 6th, 2014 and wouldn’t you know, the Buckeyes seem to be in a similar position as they were the year before. Maybe there was less of a certainty to it, but it turned out being, win and you’re in. The difference between last years Buckeye team and this years was evident from the kick off. This team played with a level of emotion, passion, anger, and down right nastiness that last years team lacked.

When Urban Meyer arrived at Ohio State he had two demands from what he wanted from his football team. He wanted a hungry and angry football team. That team showed up Saturday night as they drubbed the 13th ranked team in the nation 59-0. They had been told all week by “experts”, Vegas odds, and whoever had a voice in college football, that they would lose to Wisconsin due to their inferior run defense and being down to their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones. When Ohio State took the field Saturday night, they did not need any extra motivation, with the world around them doubting, and the love and memory of their fallen teammate Kosta Karageorge, the Buckeyes played their best game under Urban Meyer.

From the opening drive Tom Herman wanted to get Cardale Jones comfortable so he opened with a roll-out to the right side and completed the pass to former Fork Union teammate Michael Thomas, who ended the night with 3 receptions for 41 yards. The pass was low and away from Thomas, but he made a nice diving grab to help his quarterback out. 5 plays later Jones would hook up with Devin Smith for 39 yard touchdown pass that put Jones at ease, Buckeye nation in a frenzy, and most importantly, Ohio State in the lead.

That script would repeat itself 2 more times in the night as Jones and Smith connected on a 44 yard touchdown and 42 yard touchdown, which led to Devin Smith’s ridiculous stat line of 4 catches, 137 yards, and 3 touchdowns. However, it wasn’t just his receivers that gave Jones an enormous amount of help. Jones was given very good protection from his offensive line. He was very efficient and did not abuse the amount of time his protection provided him. On several occasions Jones would work through his first, second, and third read, tuck the ball and scramble for whatever yardage he could get.

The offensive line also did a hell of a job blocking for running back Ezekiel Elliott. The sophomore stole the spotlight which was intended for Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon. Elliott went off, rushing 20 times for an astounding 220 yards and two touchdowns. His night was highlighted by an explosive 81 yard run on the Buckeyes second drive. Once again, the credit for that score goes largely to the offensive line who opened up a whole, led by Jacoby Boren, that you could drive a semi-truck through.

As dominant as the offensive line was, the defensive line was as equally imposing. Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett were the main disruptors on the evening, but there were contributions from everyone. Starting on the opening drive the Badgers rushed Gordon twice for a total of 1 yard and were forced to punt. On Wisconsin’s second drive Gordon began to have more success pulling off an 8 and 6 yard gain, but the Buckeye defense stiffened and forced yet another punt. Gordon ended his night and his Heisman campaign with a mere 26 rushes for 76 yards and a 2.9 yards per carry average, and also one fumble that was recovered by Joey Bosa and returned for a touchdown.

The key to shutting Gordon down was the exceptional play of the defensive line, either occupying blockers or creating penetration. They were quickly followed by Lee, Grant, and Perry flowing downhill faster than they have played all season. I suspect Ash had them playing relatively conservative this season to help out in the play action game which helped control the middle of the field, but given that Wisconsin had posed no legitimate threat to the middle of the field, Ash and Fickell gave the LB’s a green light to play downhill which suits Grant’s and Perry’s playing style.

While the front seven did their job, the back four of the Buckeyes defense, led by senior Doran Grant, played outstanding. Sophomore Vonn Bell baited Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave in to an early interception. Bell sat in zone coverage and tracked Stave’s eyes back to the middle of the field which led Bell directly to the Stave’s target and the ball. Senior Doran Grant also got in on the interception action as he had two of his own. Stave finished his forgettable night just 17/43 for 187 yards and 3 interceptions.

It is safe to say that the Badgers were overwhelmed and outmatched Saturday night. They had little to no answer for the Buckeyes athleticism, speed, and depth. This was a program building win. In my opinion, this was the first time this program, under Urban Meyer has been able to establish itself as the top dog in the conference. Meyer has his recruiting classes rolling in, his players have bought in to what he and his staff are teaching, and the Buckeyes are the king’s of the Big Ten Conference. Next up: Alabama.

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