If you’re on the football playoff committee, what do you make of this? Do you focus on the big plays delivered early by J.T. Barrett’s arm and J.K. Dobbins’ legs, or does the second-half performance in ankle-deep mud hold sway? No matter what, it comes down to Meyer vs. Saban again. Leaves awarded on a zero-to-five basis. — Ray Stein
How smooth and shiny the OSU bus looked, gleaming after the long touchdown passes and the young pony’s gallops. And then it was like every bird in central Indiana deposited its cargo on the vehicle. Not so pretty now, is it? The Buckeyes finished with 449 yards, but 271 came on four plays.
Job one was bottling up Wisconsin’s stud running back, Jonathan Taylor, and the Buckeyes saw it through by limiting the freshman to 41 yards on 15 carries. Throughout the second half, the OSU defense felt more pressure because the OSU offense couldn’t do more than what the Badgers did, but the Buckeyes survived.
Special teams (3)
K.J. Hill had been flirting with success in the punt return game for a while and finally cashed some chips. His 50 yards on three returns helped turn the field-position battle in OSU’s favor. In that quest, Drue Chrisman needed a good last punt and he nailed it. A blocked field goal attempt was a downer heading to halftime.
Considering the health of OSU’s four-year starting quarterback, it may be worth three leaves just coming out of Indianapolis with a trophy. Urban Meyer rolled the dice when he chose to take a six-point lead rather than go for the jugular touchdown on fourth-and-1 from the 3, but that’s a sign he trusts his defense.
As a white-knuckler, this game got it done, though here’s guessing many Buckeyes fans did as much cursing as cheering as OSU passes sailed incomplete or into the arms of defenders. Indeed, Ohio State made things a lot cozier than they needed to be, and it may rue its failure to finish off the Badgers with gusto.
The Badgers are what they are — as boring as their coach looks and sounds and as hard-nosed as any team in the Big Ten. What Wisconsin was in this game was something of a fish out of water when its running game was stuck in the ditch. QB Alex Hornibrook has gumption but he’s no aerial artist.
No complaints, for the most part, though confusion reigned on Dobbins’ long run in the second quarter. First, two officials signaled touchdown. Then the referee said the ruling on the field was that Dobbins stepped out on the 1. So why were their arms up? That’s the signal for out of bounds?