Beyond the Hashes: Wisconsin

By Chad Peltier on November 18, 2012 at 12:00p

Yesterday just goes to show how difficult it is to go undefeated, regardless of strength of schedule or what conference you are in.

The Buckeyes now stand as one of just two undefeated teams in the entire FBS after Kansas State and Oregon both took one to the chin last night.

Ohio State took one to the chin too, with Wisconsin piling up 124 more yards than the Buckeyes – but unlike Oregon, Ohio State emerged from overtime against their non-rivals* 11-0.

Brown put points on the board since the offense wasn't willingBrown decided that it was time to put up some points

The Matchup

Wisconsin ranks as just the third-best (close to Penn State at fourth) team behind Nebraska and Michigan State that Ohio State has faced this season according to the S&P+.

The most critical matchup of the day is between units tied in their respective S&P+ rankings at 29th in the country. The OSU offense has proven to be top ten in terms of efficiency and explosiveness, at 9th in the country. The Badgers bring in the 19th-efficient defense.

Given that the OSU defense and Wisconsin offense are even matchups, while the OSU offense has the edge over the Wisconsin defense, the statistics supported an OSU victory:

  Record S&P+ RK Off S&P+ RK Def S&P+ RK
Ohio St 10-0 16 9 29
Wisconsin 7-3 24 29 19

The Offense

The Buckeyes had one of their worst showings on offense in an outing where a bit of everything seemed to go wrong.

The Badgers, to their credit, defended Braxton far better than I thought they would be able to, holding Braxton to just 145 total yards and the offense to approximately 200 yards under their season average.

  1D 3D 4D Yards Pass Rush TO PENALTY QS SACK
vs. Wisc 15(21) 25% - 236(426) 97(181) 139(245) (16) 2-25(75-700) .237 3(25)

As the Wisconsin defensive backs said during the post-game – and as future defensive coordinators will likely remember – Bucky was able to play man on the receivers and devote a spy to Braxton.

Taking a defensive back away from zone coverage to spy on a quarterback allows the opposing offense to gain a numbers advantage in the passing game, but the Buckeyes were not able to consistently exploit this.

Besides the Badgers’ quality defensive game plan, I think three things combined for the offensive struggles:

  1. Play calling wasn’t the best that we’ve seen this year. In retrospect, as a couch offensive coordinator, it’s easy to say that we should have just handed the ball off to Hyde at least ten more times. Hyde was rolling on inside zone and power all day, so maybe there’s something to this argument.
  2. Braxton had an off night. He seemed a little more indecisive in both scrambling and throwing.
  3. The receivers couldn’t seem to get open in any medium or long routes. I understand the strategy – complete some longer passes to force the secondary out of the box and off of Braxton – but it just wasn’t there all night.

The good news is that Hyde performed admirably and that this team can win even without stellar play on offense.

The Clock. The Buckeyes had the lowest time of possession on the season at just under 23 minutes and ran only 59 plays. There’s no doubt that this is related to the offense’s lower numbers.

  Time of posession # of Plays
vs. Wisconsin 22:43 59
This season 29:42 70
LAST SEASON 30:41 62

The Buckeyes couldn’t get in a lot of plays with four three-and-outs and nine punts overall.

The Defense

The defense actually performed a Tresselian masterpiece: bend but not break, play field position, and win in a tight one. Ah, sweet* memories.

  1D Yards Pass Rush TO TOP TFL Sack INT 3&Out RBSR QSand
vs. Wisc 20(19) 360(367) 154(250) 206(117) 1(17) 37:17 9(57) 4(26) (13) 4(36) 41% .169

The numbers actually perfectly reflect the defense’s ability to allow drives – there were only 3 three-and-outs – but not allow the Badgers to turn those drives into points. The Badgers’ offense averaged just .169 points per play, which is actually the Silver Bullets' lowest (i.e. best) quicksand score on the year.

Montee Ball seemingly gashed the defense all night, but his 41% efficiency rating suggest that his performance wasn’t as dominant as his total yards (191) suggest.

The Bullets actually gave up fewer yards than they average per game, but the distribution of run/pass yards was opposite than normal. Bucky is undoubtedly a great rushing team.

Ohio State recorded nine tackles for loss, which was a season high against a quality Badger offensive line and a mobile quarterback. Simon repeatedly pummeled Curt Phillips, took his lunch money, and then gave him a swirly.

Special Teams

Corey Brown’s punt return for a touchdown is the highlight for the special teams section, as Brown provided some of the game’s only big fireworks.

Buchanan had an unfortunately active, if not stellar day as well, pinning two of his nine punts inside the 20 (one thanks to Orhian Johnson).

Hankins could not look happier hereCelebrate yesterday, but get ready for UM Week 

Player Analysis

Braxton Miller. You don’t need to look at the numbers to see that it wasn’t Braxton’s best day, as he was held to under a hundred yards passing for the first time on the year.

With no touchdowns and such low passing numbers, I’m not confident that Braxton can pull out an invite to New York for the Heisman anymore. It will certainly take a big day against Michigan next week to secure a spot – though he’s helped by Barner and Klein having off days.

Braxton seemed to have less pocket presence, indecision with whether to scramble or not, and trouble with reads due to the extra Wisconsin defensive back that was on him all day. 

  COMP/Att % Yards TD INT Rating
Miller 10/18(134/236) 56% 97(1850) (14) (6) 100.4

It does seem to be true that Braxton has more trouble throwing the ball when he can’t get good rushing yards in.

Running Backs. Hyde carried this team yesterday, recording big runs of 15 and 18 yards and still rushing with similar efficiency as Ball – just with fewer carries.

  atts Yards YPC RBSR Ex Plays YPC- ex plays
Hyde 15(159) 87(824) 5.8 47%(54%) 18, 15 4.2
Miller 23(201) 48(1233) 2.1 73%(61%)    
Dunn (25) (133)   (87%)    
Boren (11) (33)   (64%)    
R. Smith (31) (211)   (74%)    
C. Brown 2(10) 5(75) 2.5 (73%)    
Hall (40) (218)   (73%)    
Guiton (2) (16)   (50%)    

Hyde’s consistency is evident by his high yards per carry average even when removing his two explosive runs.

Both Hyde and Meyer really want him to reach the 1,000-yard mark on the season – arbitrary, sure, but important for recruiting elite running backs who are wary of Urban not every getting a 1,000-yard back. He’ll need 176 yards against That State Up North to get there.

Braxton was almost a non-factor, getting spied and overwhelmed by the Wisconsin defense.

Wide Receivers. With only 97 passing yards it was hard for any receiver to truly stand out, but it was nice to see both Devin Smith and Corey Brown headline the receiving corps once again.

  Yards Catch Rate
Spencer (127) 0/1(11/19)
D. Smith 41(555) 4/4(28/50)
Stoneburner (260) 0/2(15/24)
C. Brown 48(574) 4/5(52/69)
Boren (42) (5/7)
Heuerman 3(94) 1/1(9/13)
Hyde (43) 0/1(7/9)
Reed (13) (1/1)
Vannett 5(122) 1/1(10/14)
Hall (31) (3/3)
M. Thomas (17) (2/2)
C. Fields (55) (4/6)
R. Smith (55) (2/2) 

This is one of my biggest worries for a potential national title run next season, as more guys have to step up behind these two.

While it’s excellent for Heuerman and Vannett to get involved in the passing game too, Herman and Meyer will be looking for a couple of guys to step up in the offseason – and against Michigan next week.

I'm really looking for Stoneburner to rebound after a disappointing showing in the passing game this week. Here's to the senior going out on a high note in The Game. 

Defense. This game simply would not have been won without the individual efforts of both the defense as a whole unit and the individual will of a few. 

  Tackles tfl FR FF Sack PBU
Shazier 12 3   1   1
Boren 12     1    
Barnett 11 .5        
Roby 7         1
Simon 6 4     4 1
Sabino 6 1        
Bryant 5   1     1

Obvious helmet stickers go out to Shazier (heard that before?), Roby, Simon, and Bryant, with additional kudos to Sabino and Boren. To highlight just a few performances: 

Simon had one of his best games a Buckeye, matching his career high in sacks in a game (4) and boosting his draft stock. Roby was his usual stellar self, while Christian Bryant came up with two big plays at the end of the game, catching Shazier’s forced fumble and then breaking up the final pass in overtime.

Shazier was everywhere once again with three tackles for loss, a pass breakup, and the crucial forced fumble as Ball dove over the pile and almost into the end zone. He played a near perfect game, with the only negative play that I can remember being when Ball powered through Shazier’s arm tackle in the middle of the backfield. As Jason said last night, we should be talking seriously about RDS for B1G defensive player of the year.

Finally, I have to give a shoutout to Sabino for coming back from injury and playing a tough game, recording a big stop on third and four in overtime.


Comments Show All Comments

AltaBuck's picture

I have not watched a replay yet but it seemed we called a lot more QB runs versus options.  When an read option was called, Brax would keep it most of the time. Was he confused on his read or just trying to make a big play?

I am Groot - Groot

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

I was not happy with all of the designed called QB runs either. Braxton, to his credit, seems to do great things running on broken plays, but Tom Herman should realize now all defenses will key in on B. Miller running the ball, even to the point of saying 'maybe zone read it to Carlos more, even if you read a run stop'... We need to make him running less obvious, because I'd much rather have him run 15 times for 100 yards on broken plays, etc than be keyed on with 25 runs and get injured.

BeijingBucks's picture

They had at least two spies... brought the safety down to shoot the gaps.  zero cut back lanes and the 1st spy just stayed outside not giving the edge.  Our receivers should have had a field day but Brax was running around for his life - even backwards into the endzone once.  it just felt all wrong.
Ironically this meant Hyde could barrel right up the middle untouched... but the few times he got the ball... 
... then again what do I know?  Ross'll do you proud soon enough!

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

okiebuck's picture

Play calling was terrible; especially on third down where it was snap it to Braxton and let him run around; WRONG. Let him throw the dang ball. You mentioned the medium to long routes not being open but the medium to short were there all day long. Will all the eye black he wears, Stoney should not lose the ball in the sun; Hyde was and is a beast; ditto John Simon and Shazier. Overall though on defense this group is not great; Ball had a big night; pass defense continues to be soft; although a shout out to Christian Bryant in OT. They are overall not worthy of the "Silver Bullets" title in my view. But hey' we are 11-0 and here comes TSUN to visit the Shoe; all is good! Go Bucks!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

45has2's picture

Just another like minded individual, here, on other forums and in my buddy's living room that could not understand why the coaching staff did not let Mr. Hyde pound the rock more with his in game 6+ yds/carry average. It was obvious Wiscy was selling out to stop 5 and doing a damn good job of it. Pound Mr. Hyde at those bucked tooth bastards until they have to pull a spy or two off Miller. THEN, it's Miller time. Shades of Jim Bollman.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

German Buckeye's picture

Most concerned that our WR's just simply could not beat their man coverage.  Really didnt see any slant routes (I'm sure there were but from a TV perspective, didnt see many).  Lots of go and post routes that Miller didnt have time to stand there and let it go.  Wiscy as usual almost had our number, BUT, we have won two in a row against them and am happy we are 11-0.  Go Bucks, beat SCUM. 

RBuck's picture

I noticed some pretty crappy route running. Cuts weren't sharp, WR's seemed to just give give up on their route and didn't come back to help Brax.

Long live the southend.

Hovenaut's picture

Looking at the game overall, especially going to OT.....shades of 2002. Seems only fitting prior to honoring the 02 NCs.

Proud of the entire team, but really impressed with the defense. They may have known what they would be facing, but still got it done in a tough environment.

11-0, on to getting number 12. Sending the seniors off right, sending a big f!ck you to the NCAA and BCS and beating scUM.

Go Bucks.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I had some of the same criticisms/questions as others in this thread, but we also need to remember two things - one, even great teams often go into a funk a few times during a season; two, this game was played in the freakin' Madison Twilight Zone, where some great Buckeye teams went to die.
In 2006, Florida gained only 279 total yards and lost 17-27 to Auburn. Bama lost to LSU 6-9 to last year and in 2009 gained only 256 yards in a 12-10 victory over Tennessee. I don't need to recap some of the Buckeyes' Tresselball wins in 2002 or during other years when they won BCS bowls. 

pjtobin's picture

Could we blame the bye week for a slow/stuttering offense? No options and no Hyde carries could mean holding back for tsun, maybe? Idk. I am not well educated in why we do what we do. Though reading the breakdowns help. Thanks. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

PJTobin: in hindsight, it's easy to conclude that the bye week helped the Silver Bullets get healthy, but it broke up the momentum on offense - not necessarily the case, but it sure seemed like it.
Also, I do expect that the coaches held back a few wrinkles for TTUN.
It's probably not so much that they were saying, "we're in a 14-7 dogfight in the second half in Madison and the offense is going nowhere, but we can't use idea-X because we need to save it for TTUN." Rather, that they didn't fully practice idea-X in the ten days leading up to the Wisconsin game. This week, they will. Just my guess, though.
[edit: also, they only ran like 59 offensive plays. The OL did not have its best game. Brax and company were constantly starting from bad field position. The players probably got a bit tight, so did the coaches. Factor in the bye week + the Silver Bullets playing well + The Game being the following week, it was probably never going to be a great week for offensive creativity].     

Ann Arbor Buckeye's picture

Our offense seemed as one dimentional as Wisky's did.  Everyone knew Braxton was keeping the ball and running on most plays.  Other than those plays we had the deep ball, but our recievers did little to get any seperation.  Unless we can find more plays like a short passing game or even a screen game with some option, the defense will always key on Braxton.  Give credit to Wisky too, their defense played a hell of a lot better than I expected.  Hopefully we find a way to pull everything together for the game.  Michigan has found a way to make their offense even better with Gardner at QB and Denard as a running back/wide out.  

Yes there are two Buckeyes in Ann arbor on this site!