Heading into the Big Ten title game on Saturday, Ohio State and Wisconsin seemed pretty evenly matched. Many hypothesized (myself included) that this would have been a very even-paced game, with the Badgers having a slight advantage over the Buckeyes. But as is the case with college football, our expectations fell strikingly short of reality.
Ohio State blew the Badgers out of the water, 59-0. The fact that Wisconsin didn’t even make it on the board still has my mind reeling, and albeit it a bit impressed with Urban Meyer and his seemingly rag-tag group of athletes.
Just ahead of Saturday’s game, Ohio State was dealing with the sorrow for the loss of fellow teammate, defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge. Even further, the team lost their second string quarterback, J.T. Barrett who had fought hard to lead the team offensively.
However, the Buckeyes rallied in the most superb way. Third string quarterback Cardale Jones led the offense as if he had been doing so all season. Never would anyone have guessed that the title game was his first career start. Jones threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns, as well as going 12-of-17, culminating in him being awarded game MVP.
The rest of the OSU offense worked like a well-oiled machine. Devin Smith caught four passes for 137 yards; Ezekiel Elliot carried the ball 12 times for 150 yards and two scores in just the first half and finished overall with 20 carries and a career high 220 yards. The Buckeyes offense made scoring look like something they could do in their sleep.
Then we transition to the other side of the ball. The Ohio State defense was one heck of a stronghold. They managed to stifle the nation’s best running back and Heisman hopeful, Melvin Gordon. Honestly, if he was there or not, it was hard to tell. This defensive strength allowed the OSU offense to keep possession of the ball and create scoring opportunities.
In this game, Ohio State really showed us what they could do. Wisconsin could (before this slaughter) boast the nation’s No. 4 scoring defense.
Ohio State was in control of the entire game, from start to finish.
This was an impressive win for the Buckeyes. Wisconsin entered this matchup, having won seven of their last consecutive games, and were an impressive threat. Their loss to Ohio State marks the first time since 1979 that the team went an entire game without scoring.
Bottom line, the victory for Ohio State paid off. The team was recognized by the playoff committee as the number four team in the nation, which has earned them a spot in the playoffs. While initially it felt as if they made it in by the skin of their teeth, they really played out harder than anyone else on Saturday.
Though we might not all be huge Buckeye fans, or even big Urban Meyer fans for that matter, we must acknowledge their solid effort. They will square off against Alabama in the first round of the playoffs in the beginning of the New Year.
*Section Photo credit to Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Batke, Lantern