The blackout was completed with a dominating performance for Ohio State.
Many covering college football will be quick to gloss over the overwhelming victory and continue to move to the next week. It was not supposed to be an easy showing for the Buckeyes who were hosting the Wisconsin Badgers. But that’s exactly what we found in the late-night blackout.
As a matter of fact, Ohio State was in complete command from the moment that the offense took the field on their first possession. Ohio State is still missing arguably the best receiver in the country with Jaxon Smith-Njigba nursing a hamstring injury, but so far, that hasn’t mattered. C.J. Stroud and the plethora of weapons at his disposal moved the ball at will against the highly respected Badger defense.
The combination of Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., Julian Fleming and Cade Stover contributed to a passing game that couldn’t be stopped. The quartet allowed Stroud to pass for 281 yards and five touchdowns. Stroud looked surgical with his passes for the majority of the game, looking very comfortable against a defense that was supposed to be the offense’s first true test. If Stroud continues this play, he should have a very strong case for the Heisman award at the end of the season.
Additionally, the running game looked elite. Wisconsin prides itself on its ability to defend and the running game is usually hard to establish against the badgers. The offensive line pushed around the line and often crashed into the second level of the defense, allowing Ohio State’s explosive running backs to wreck the opposition.
TreVeyon Henderson ran for 121 yards on the day and his running mate Miyan Williams ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Miyan has established himself as a major piece for this team as he has been outstanding in each of Ohio State’s games. And with averaging an incredible 9.2 yards per carry against the Badgers, he did nothing to hurt that perception.
Comparatively last season, there were times that it seemed that Ohio State had difficulty establishing the physical ground attack that it has been known for in the past. But the way that the Buckeyes have pummeled opponents through the air, as well as the ground, should ease those concerns.
The defense continues to show improvement and may become elite by season’s end.
Lastly, the defense looked almost as dominant as the offense for most of the game. Never allowing Wisconsin the establish its identity on the ground. Wisconsin’s back Braelon Allen did finish with 165 yards and a touchdown, but most of that came at the end of the game with Ohio State’s backups in the game. The defense bullied quarterback Graham Mertz all day, only allowing 94 yards, one touchdown and one interception on a poultry 11.8 QBR.
Surprisingly, the defense has continued to show improvement each game. This was on full display in their win Saturday night. JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown both made their first career starts at cornerback in place of Burke and Cameron Brown. In theory, Wisconsin should have been able to pick on the newcomers, but both Johnson and Brown looked comfortable in their first career starts. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg finished with 14 total tackles and two for a loss, as he was swarming to the ball all night.
Ohio State continues to find ways to dismantle its opponents and improve each week. At this rate, it is very encouraging and should be quite the formidable opponent for any team in the country. Next week Ohio State faces off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The best thing about 4-0 is the opportunity to go 5-0.