Ohio State football: What we liked, didn't like from OSU's win over Wisconsin
Ohio State had a pretty easy Saturday. Jumping out 28-0 in the game’s first 18 minutes gave the Buckeyes a comfortable advantage that Wisconsin never threatened in the 52-21 win. The No. 3 Buckeyes remain near the top of the college football heap, taking a 4-0 mark into October. Here’s what we liked and didn’t like from the victory.
The running game
Ryan Day isn’t all about the pass, it turns out. Without Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Day was quite comfortable taking a page out of Wisconsin’s playbook, going with 43 runs against 28 passes. And in those 43 runs, both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams rushed for 100 yards. OSU’s 43 runs for 258 yards definitely made a statement — and that statement is that the Buckeyes can line up and play smash-mouth football any time it’s needed.
Stover and Fleming
WIthout Smith-Njigba, the Buckeyes needed a little help in the passing game. On a week when CJ Stroud only targeted 4 receivers all day, tight end Cade Stover emerged as a significant red zone threat. Stover’s 4 catches for 51 yards included a pair of red-zone touchdowns. Meanwhile, Julian Fleming stepped up to claim his spot in the receiving corps, grabbing 4 passes for 67 yards, including a TD, marking a second straight week in which Fleming found the end zone. Once Smith-Njigba returns, Ohio State might well have the nation’s best receiver group, and the development of a pair of significant weapons certainly is part of that picture.
The Oklahoma State transfer had a significant impact in this game, picking off a pass on Wisconsin’s first possession and returning it to the Badgers’ 16-yard line. Two plays later, Ohio State led 14-0, and Wisconsin never challenged again. McCalister had 4 tackles and broke up another pass for the Buckeyes. Having followed Jim Knowles to Columbus, McCalister is doing his part to make his former and current defensive coordinator look like a genius.
Didn’t like …
Having Smith-Njigba out
This game looked like it would be another chance to fine-tune the full Buckeyes offense. Jaxon Smith-Njigba missed most of 2 games, and TreVeyon Henderson missed most of the game when he returned. But Smith-Njigba was held out, and the Buckeyes plunged on without him. Yes, Ohio State’s offense was fine without the talented All-American. And holding him out of this week’s game and probably next week’s against Rutgers is far from unreasonable, if it helps Smith-Njigba play at closer to 100 percent later in the season. Still, it would’ve been nice to see the whole OSU personnel group playing a full game together. Maybe soon.
Garbage time defense
It’s meaningless in all except the final totals, but Ohio State’s defense allowed just 296 yards all game, but 128 of those came in the 4th quarter, including a 75-yard touchdown jaunt for Braelon Allen. Some of the problem was just the result of getting snaps for players down the depth chart, but the film review will probably have Jim Knowles a bit salty at the guys who played out the string in the 4th quarter of this blowout.
Brutus Buckeye’s tumble
BRUTUS GOT KNOCKED OUT! pic.twitter.com/PiPE8DXGjo
— ESPN (@espn) September 25, 2022
The Ohio State mascot might have taken the biggest shot of the game. The massive bubble probably keeps it from being targeting, but poor Brutus might have needed a quick trip to the medical tent after getting de-cleated.