The clash in Madison, Wisconsin between #2 Ohio State traveling on the road against a #8 Wisconsin who, earlier in the season upset LSU during the season opener at Lambeau Field. Wisconsin also played valiantly against TTUN and only lost that game by the same margin of 7 points.
This game had big College Football Playoff implications and both teams looked to solidify their standing within the College Football Playoff conversation. Ohio State and Quarterback J.T. Barrett added another hard fought, but yet impressive win against a raucous Wisconsin crowd that reacted relentlessly when their home team made a play on either side of the ball. They made their presence known and through all the adversity J.T. Barrett, Pat Elflein and Billy Price, the three offensive holdovers from last seasons Ohio State Offensive team proved to be valuable just as the game looked to get out of hand. After a poor first half and with a huge discrepancy with yardage gained compared to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes looked toward the three key cogs within their offensive scheme to compile positive plays to get the offense running smoothly and to right the ship that seemed to be on the verge of sinking. Although the yardage discrepancy looked insurmountable, J.T. Barrett took over in the second half, making huge impactful plays. one after another and he willed the Buckeyes toward victory. He finished throwing 17 of 29 passes for a modest 226 yards and a key touchdown pass during the overtime period of the game. Barrett also rushed 21 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns to aid in defeating the Badgers pesky defense that shut down the Buckeyes offensive attack during the first half leaving the then defeated Buckeyes with only 6 points by the end of the first half. Once again the Buckeyes offensive playmakers failed to be less predictable and it showed. The loss of Tom Herman has left the remnants of their players with a far more conservative gameplan game after game and questions need to be answered before The Game because their passing deficiencies need to be addressed and improved because The Game could be for all the marbles this year. Although dependable playmakers such as Samuel, Wilson and Weber were “contained” they did manage to pick up key first downs and it proved that they can be depended on during big moments during a game.
J.T. Barrett wasn’t the only person who made plays when they counted the most. The entire Ohio State Defense made up for their lack of discipline and came back from the depths of oblivion. They weren’t tackling like they normally did throughout the season and they look visibly shaken for the first time and it showed. The halftime speech from Defensive Captains and the coaching staff had to be epic for the Silver Bullets to rebound the way that they did. They left the field during halftime with a 10-point deficit and they came back and allowed just 7-points during the second half which ended up as the first rushing touchdown surrendered by the Silver Bullets by way of a Fullback Dive play that caught the defense off-guard. They were ground up by Clements as he gashed the Buckeyes for huge chunks of yardage and it seemed like he would surpass the 164 yards that he ended the game with, but he looked visibly battered as he limped in-and-out of the offensive lineup. The Silver Bullets were also gashed on huge plays made by Jazz Peavy (6 rushes on the same play for 70-yards and 4 receptions for 76 and a 36-yard touchdown reception). The Badger Tight End Troy Fumgalli was also a huge part of the passing attack and he caught 7 passes for 84-yards, but he was held without a touchdown. Peavy and Fumagalli were both held in check during the entire second half because Coach Fickell and Schiano’s second half adjustments were to negate huge plays from those two Wisconsin playmakers and they succeeded. Factor that and the huge sacks during the second half and overtime victory, the young Buckeyes have grown from this near disaster. Gareon Conley also came up huge and his experience and with him being on of the three holdovers from last years squad, he was clutch for Urban Meyer and his unit. He ended with a single interception, but it should have been two. I am not an expert by any means, but I don’t understand it up to this very moment. A fumble was also not to be because Clement made contact with the ball when his elbow fell out of bounds. Again, I am not an expert but that was more plausible than the interception, but that is none of my business. There is still going to be some growing pains, but I think with these testy games against good competition against Indiana and Wisconsin, we will have to see where this leads and if they could execute better in the future.
Next week we have the same scenario laid out for us. Another away game at Penn State, after a bye-week and two weeks to prepare for a Buckeye squad who is still in the midst of regaining momentum for their offense. Oh and factor in another White Out scenario as well. The last White Out that I can remember was during the Championship run and Joey Bosa’s Walk-Off Sack of Christian Hackenberg in overtime at Happy Valley. I for one hope that the offense picks it up and the defense continues to improve and get better. Will it happen? You never know in College Football, but anything can happen.