In a game that was supposed to be Ohio State’s biggest battle of the season, the contest proved to be only a minor skirmish as the Buckeyes rolled to a dominant 38-7 win over the thirteen-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in a rain-soaked Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
After taking a 10-0 lead into halftime, Ohio State outscored Wisconsin 28-7 in the second half to blow the game open and coast to yet another blowout victory.
Buckeyes running back J.K. Dobbins turned in a monster performance in a game where his counterpart —Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor — had received all the attention as the best back in the country in the week leading up to the game.
Dobbins finished his day with 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries, and he added 58 yards receiving on three catches as well.
Quarterback Justin Fields threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns — both to Chris Olave — on the day and ran for another score. Olave led all receivers with seven catches for 93 yards and the pair of scores.
But in a game full of storylines, the day belonged to the Ohio State defense and, specifically, defensive end Chase Young, who further staked his claim to being the best player in all of college football.
With a ton of NFL scouts in attendance, Young was overwhelming early and often, as he has been all season, and finished with four sacks, two of which resulted in fumbles. Young is now a sack away from setting the school record for sacks in a single season; Vernon Gholston currently holds the record with 14 sacks in 2007.
Led by Young, the Silver Bullets held Taylor, a Heisman candidate coming into the game, to just 52 yards on 20 carries for the game and held the Wisconsin offense overall to only 191 total yards. For a one dimensional Wisconsin offense, the suffocating Ohio State run defense proved to be far too much as they were held to just 191 total yards.
The two teams traded punts for more than a quarter of play to open up the game as the rain, which had been coming down all morning, continued to do so throughout the opening half and both teams were hesitant to throw the ball.
Ohio State finally broke open the scoring with 6:41 left in the second quarter when Blake Haubeil connected on a 49-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead.
After forcing Wisconsin to punt on the ensuing drive, Fields masterfully engineered an eight-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off with a 27-yard touchdown strike to Chris Olave to up the Ohio State lead to 10-0 as the final seconds of the first half ticked away.
Wisconsin, in desperate need of a big play, threw a haymaker to begin the second half. After forcing a three-and-out by the Ohio State offense on the opening drive, Drue Chrisman’s punt appeared to be tipped by a Wisconsin player, sending the ball out of bounds for just a 13-yard effort and setting the Wisconsin offense up at the Ohio State 23-yard line.
With their first chance to get points on the board, Wisconsin wasted no time in cashing in on the great field position. Quarterback Jack Coan found A.J. Taylor just two plays later for a 26-yard touchdown to cut the Ohio State lead to just 10-7 and momentarily mute the good vibes that had been flowing around Ohio Stadium since halftime.
But as quick as Wisconsin could signal that the fight was still on, Ohio State punched right back. And they didn’t stop punching.
On the following drive, Fields completed passes of 22 and 11 yards, and a 28-yard run by Dobbins down to the Wisconsin 10-yard line had the Buckeyes right back into position to increase the lead to double digits. Fields scampered for a 10-yard touchdown run to finish off the drive, giving the Buckeyes a 17-7 lead with under nine minutes left to play in the third.
Wisconsin couldn’t pick up a first down on their next drive, and the Ohio State offense effectively ended any questions about the outcome on the ensuing drive when Dobbins found paydirt from nine yards out to push the Buckeye lead to 24-7.
Dobbins had 46 yards rushing on the drive, which took less than two minutes off the clock and essentially forced Wisconsin to throw in the towel as they never got off the mat throughout the remainder of the game.
Ohio State finished the game with 431 yards of total offense, easily the most Wisconsin’s defense, which entered the game as the top unit in the country, has surrendered this season.
Following the game, head coach Ryan Day said of what he learned from his team’s effort, “How tough and gritty we can play. This just goes to show you the potential and how tough we can be. I think we’re athletic, I think we’re talented, but when you come into the game like this and play this hard against this kind of a defense coming off a loss for them, and this type of environment, 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.”
Now 8-0, Ohio State heads into the second of their two scheduled bye weeks as the stretch run looms. Day said of the bye week and what’s ahead, “We knew where we wanted to be at this point. And we know we come up for air and talk about that final stretch of four games there. And hopefully, we’ll go from there. But again, staying locked in on that and November is the final run. This is where all the memories are made. This is what it all comes down to.”
Ohio State will return to action Nov. 9 when they take on Maryland in Ohio Stadium. Kickoff time for that game is still to be determined.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.