In poker, a pair of 2s is usually a losing hand.
But there aren’t many No. 2s in college football quite like J.K. Dobbins and Chase Young. The Ohio State juniors each wear that uniform number, and they helped bury Wisconsin on Saturday.
Dobbins ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns and Young tied a Buckeyes record with four sacks, including two for fumbles, in Ohio State’s 38-7 victory in front of 102,998 rain-soaked fans at Ohio Stadium.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
The victory was the eighth lopsided one in as many games for the No. 3 Buckeyes (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten). Ohio State has won every game by at least 24 points.
No. 13 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2) was supposed to provide its toughest test. The Badgers had overwhelmed opponents until a stunning upset by Illinois last week.
That dampened some of the hype heading into Saturday, but the Buckeyes were quite wary. Wisconsin entered the game with the country’s top-ranked defense and an offense led by star running back Jonathan Taylor.
“I thought it was going to be a tough game,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “I thought the noon kick(off), a little cooler (weather), the rain — I thought it played to Wisconsin a little bit more. They’re a ball-control team. So we had to be tough. We had to come out and play gritty.”
It took awhile the Buckeyes offense to click. Ohio State didn’t even attempt a pass until the final minute of the first quarter. The game was scoreless late in the second quarter before the Buckeyes took a 10-0 halftime lead.
While Ohio State eventually figured out Wisconsin’s defense, the Badgers failed to do the same with the Buckeyes’. That was largely because of Young, who was sometimes deployed as a linebacker to prevent Wisconsin from gearing its blocking toward him.
Young had plenty of help, of course. A defense needs 11 players playing in sync, and the Buckeyes had that, but it starts with Young.
“He’s probably the most dominant player in all of college football now,” Day said.
The defense limited Wisconsin to only nine first downs and 191 yards. Taylor, who averaged 137 rushing yards in his first seven games, was limited to 52 on 20 carries.
The Badgers’ only score came after they blocked a punt and took over the Ohio State 30-yard line early in the second half. Jack Coan threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Taylor to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 10-7.
After that, it was all Ohio State, with Dobbins carrying most of the offensive load behind an offensive line that found its groove. The Buckeyes drove 75 yards on their ensuing possession.
Chris Olave, who caught two touchdown passes from Justin Fields, started the drive with two receptions. Dobbins then broke a 28-yard run to set up a 10-yard Fields keeper for the score.
After another defensive stop, Ohio State scored quickly again, with Dobbins going 34 and 9 yards on the final two carries for a 24-7 lead. Young stripped the ball from Coan on a fourth-down play at the Ohio State 37 to end the last realistic chance the Badgers had to rally.
Dobbins then scored on a 14-yard run and Young had another a strip-sack on Wisconsin’s next possession to put exclamation points on their performances. Dobbins went over 1,000 yards for the season, making him the first Buckeye to hit that milestone in each of his first three seasons.
But Dobbins isn’t satisfied.
“My performances have been OK,” he said. “They haven’t been outstanding, so I'm trying to find a way to have that outstanding performance. One day it's going to come if I keep working on my craft.”
That’s the attitude Day wants his entire team to have. Ohio State is supremely talented. Day knew Wisconsin would reveal something else about the Buckeyes.
“To win like we did, I think it goes to show you how tough we are and that we have the capability to play anybody in the country,” he said.
It should be a few more weeks before the Buckeyes are seriously tested again. They head into another off week and then play what should be gimmes against Maryland and Rutgers before finishing their regular season against Penn State and Michigan.
“We all know that all that matters is what happens at the end of the year,” Day said.