The wicked elements and a monstrous opponent suggested a different kind of Halloween-week challenge for Ohio State: Call it splash-mouth football. At the start, trick-or-treating was slow for the Buckeyes, befitting the wet, cold conditions. But by the end they were holding all of the candy, and life was sweet. Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis.

Offense (4)

J.K. Dobbins’ teammates needled him all week, and it stung: The best RB in the Big Ten was coming to town. So Dobbins put on a display that left a tattoo on Wisconsin, rushing for 163 yards and two scores. He had help, of course (Fields, Olave, the line), but his 221 total yards were 30 more than Wisconsin managed as a team.

Defense (5)

Um, Chase Young can play football. Well. Extremely well. Incredibly well. Better-than-Bosas well. He destroyed would-be blockers, then swiped QB Jack Coan’s lunch money. Young was a one-man wrecking crew, but this was no solo job. OSU was always solid, often spectacular, across the board, as Jonathan Taylor can attest.

Special teams (2)

Blake Haubeil backed up last week’s 55-yard field goal with a 49-yarder in tougher conditions. That, and one Garrett Wilson punt return, were the lone bright spots. Drue Chrisman had one punt partly blocked, leading to the Badgers’ only points, as well as a can-of-corn pop fly. Demario McCall makes catching punts an unnecessary thrill ride.

Coaching (4)

Those looked like a classic case of first-quarter jitters, the way Ohio State came out playing a three-legged-sack-race brand of football. But the nerves dissipated by the second quarter — washed away? — and if there were any doubts, the Buckeyes answered them when they immediately answered Wisconsin’s TD in the third quarter.

Fun (5)

The Horseshoe never did fill to the brim, but it’s amazing the old gray lady took on so many passengers considering the weather conditions. Even better for the home team, those who braved the rain howled with delight as the Buckeyes took command in the middle quarters. They were difference-makers.

Opponent (3)

The whispers about the unbeaten starts by the Buckeyes and Badgers — wait until they play somebody — can now be answered emphatically. Wisconsin can’t be counted as a fraud, exactly, but it lacks enough playmakers for the big time. The defense packs a punch, but that only goes so far. UW has work to do to win the West.

Officiating (3)

Mike Cannon’s crew let the teams play, a wise philosophy when the rain is coming down in sheets. The officials called only five penalties — two on OSU — and needed replay only once, when Jonathan Taylor bobbled a pass near the boundary. Could they have called more holding penalties? Sure? Can they every play? Sure.

 

rstein@dispatch.com