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.
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|
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.
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:
- 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.
- Braxton had an off night. He seemed a little more indecisive in both scrambling and throwing.
- 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|
The Buckeyes couldn’t get in a lot of plays with four three-and-outs and nine punts overall.
The defense actually performed a Tresselian masterpiece: bend but not break, play field position, and win in a tight one. Ah, sweet* memories.
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.
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).
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
Complete Game Coverage
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.