Favorite Stat of the Game: 27 unanswered points. I was having my doubts at half time. I’m not ashamed to be honest but ashamed that I was doubting this team. They came back out of the locker room and dominated. Scoring 27 unanswered points on 260 total yards and allowing none and allowing only 138 total yards. Final stat gem; Ohio State is now 99-9 since the start of the Urban Meyer era through today.
The Brooklyn Dagger Award: I know it was more likely K.J. Hill’s second touchdown reception that put this one on ice but to me the exclamation point was Josh Proctor cleaning Jack Coan’s clock on the final play of the game as Coan raced to get into the endzone. It was just the final stab and twist of the knife and the 80% Buckeye crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium erupted with delirious roaring.
Dwayne Haskins (Player of the Game) Award: K.J. Hill. Ohio State was in a nasty fight. J.K. Dobbins was running well, the defense was fighting tough, and Justin Fields was showing a lot of guts, but it was still a 21-17 game. Then K.J. Hill turned it up to eleven. On Ohio State’s go ahead drive Hill had three catches for 40 yards and the go ahead score. Not done yet, on the next Buckeye possession after a Wisconsin three-and-out he had two more catches for 15 yards and another score that made the game 31-21 Buckeyes. That was all she wrote, and K.J. Hill finished the game with seven catches for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His first touchdown grabbed tied David Boston’s record of 191 catches for a Buckeye and after the second touchdown Hill sat alone on the top of that mountain with 193 catches; a new record for Ohio State and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.
Defensive Player of the Game: It’s amazing that Chase Young didn’t have a sack and was still the most dominant player in the game. Still taking up triple teams, causing holds, despite of this still hurrying the quarterback, and allowing his teammates to beat one-on-one blocks and get sacks, Chase did it all again. He had six tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, two pass break ups and two official quarterback hurries. The rest of the defense got two sacks, 6.5 tackles for a loss, two more quarterback hurries, and four more pass break ups. Young now has on the season 44 tackles, 16.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, three pass break ups, six quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles and one blocked kick. He earned his trip to New York. He’s earned the Bronco Nagurski Award. It’s been a blast watching Chase Young for three years. The first time I knew he was going to be a star was on Senior Day in 2017. It was a rain-soaked day in the Shoe and Young got in late because of the insane depth of that defensive line, but he was still putting his foot in the ground and blowing past guys that night when the rain slowed everyone down. Everyone but him. I remember thinking this guy might pick up where the Bosa’s leave off. He did. And then some.
Ryan Shazier-Devin Smith Award: Zach Harrison. In what is slightly a bold prediction just because it’s difficult for anyone to be that good, I believe Zach Harrison is going to be the next Chase Young. His impact this year has reminded me a lot of Chase in 2017. With so much being done to stop Chase Young, Harrison had to step up. And when given one-on-one chances he a true freshman, capitalized. Harrison ended the night with four tackles, a sack, and a tackle for a loss. This young man has a bright future ahead of him at Ohio State.
Dane Sanzenbacher Award: J.K. Dobbins. At the game they only posted the team rushing stats on the video boards, so because Justin Fields was hampered by injury, the team outside of J.K. had zero yards rushing. Not knowing that until afterward I was floored to see that J.K. Dobbins had 172 yards on 33 carries to go along with his touchdown. Once again, J.K. Dobbins outran Jonathan Taylor when they met head-to-head, and once again this offense went through J.K. Hill, Fields, Ruckert, and the rest of the passing game don’t come up as big without J.K. Dobbins being a constant threat and damaging the Wisconsin defense. In three straight B1G Championship Games that I got to see in person, Dobbins had 469 total yards and three touchdowns. This was likely the last game I’ll get to see J.K. Dobbins play in in person. My hat is off to this young man. It’s been an honor to watch him play, write about him, and be in the same stadium as him.
Taylor Decker Award: Justin Fields. This guy played through pain, through having a big part of his game limited by that pain and by the opposing defense and had a bad turnover early. Yet he bounced back. That’s the thing that stands out about Fields, not his running or passing but his intelligence. It takes a smart guy to throw only interception in 13 games, to not get rattled when a big facet of his game isn’t as available, and to not throw into traffic. Fields is as gifted athletically as any Buckeye quarterback in the past decade, but his head being his biggest asset may give him the highest ceiling. 299 yards and three touchdowns against Wisconsin, giving him 50 touchdowns he’s responsible for on the year is why he’s a Heisman Finalist and Buckeye Nation is blessed that we’ll have this young man as our signal caller for this and another season.
Fedora Award: Ryan Day. First Buckeye Big Ten Coach of the Year since this award’s namesake. 16-0 and two wins away from joining the elite company of Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel, Woody Hayes, and Paul Brown. Every challenge that has been set before him, he has answered, and answered emphatically. Last year, after Urban retired, it was; Can Ryan Day recruit. Freshman like Zach Harrison and Garrett Wilson are an early answer along with another top five recruiting class. Then it was can he coach a quarterback without Urban, and here he is with another record setting Heisman finalist. Could he have an elite defense? He brings in Jeff Hafley and they’re a top five defense with a Heisman finalist of their own. Then it was can he win the Big Ten East. Beat Penn State by 11 and clinched it before The Game. Can he win The Game? 56-27, back-to-back 50 plus games and back-to-back 20 plus wins against that team up north. Can he win a championship? 13-0 and he delivered the third straight since he arrived in Columbus. He just keeps on answering and he’s got another opportunity to on December 28th.
Sweater Vest Award: Drue Chrisman. It was unfortunate that they didn’t score on the drive where Chrisman had beautiful pass on a fake punt, but it was still critically important. Ohio State was dead in the water at the time and that play breathed life into the team. If I had to pick a moment where the momentum began to turn back toward the Buckeyes, this would be it. It was a heck of a play by Chrisman and Farrell and just as gutsy of a call by Ryan Day. It’s funny, we all know Chrisman for his field and bottle flipping, but the dude is smooth. On that play in one quick motion he brought the ball from out in front him at hip level up to pass an fired off a beauty that would make any quarterback proud.
Archie Award: Jonathan Cooper. During a T.V. timeout after the Buckeyes took a 34-21 lead and Wisconsin had the ball back, Jonathan Cooper could be seen pumping up the Rushmen. It was great to see Cooper, a likely team captain in 2020 take a leadership role with this team. After giving a speech to the brothers in his unit, he kept it light by fake boxing with Chase Young. Cooper even though he played his last snap of the year in The Game, is still a critical part of this team. That’s class, that’s above and beyond.
Horned Rimmed Glasses Award: This team accomplished something that one of Woody’s best teams couldn’t do even with a two-time Heisman winner and that was beat a really good team twice in the same season, the second time being on the more important and with a championship on the line. The 1975 Buckeyes beat UCLA 41-20 in the Coliseum and had a rematch with them in the Rose Bowl on New Years’ Day in 1976. Archie, Cornelius Greene, and Pete Johnson made a three headed monster that was as lethal in their day as Dobbins, Fields, and Young are in ours and would have been national champions with a win that would have put them at 12-0. Yet that talented team couldn’t get it done, falling 10-23 in the Rose Bowl. So, defeating a good team twice in the same season is no easy feat. Yet our 2019 and three in a row Big Ten Champion Buckeyes did just that. If the ’75 squad had been able to do that, Woody Hayes may have retired then and there and rode off into the sunset, but went, but not go quietly into the night three years later against hated Clemson. Avenge Woody, 2019 Buckeyes!
Urban Meyer Coaching Moments of the Game: I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of that locker room during halftime. I’d love to know what this team said to one another because they did a 180 and dominated in the second half. Ryan Day is a smiling assassin. Going for it on three fourth downs and the fake punt were brilliant calls because they kept Wisconsin off balance and kept his guys in the game. Coach Day has a tremendous sense of where the momentum in a game is. He’s taken it to every top coach in the Big Ten offensively and now to most defensively as well. He’ll come out firing against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl and will have a trick or two up his sleeve as well.
Glass Half Empty: We’ve had some nasty looking struggles in our last three games. Fumbles and a struggling goal line offense in the RedZone. Fields has had some rough overthrows. And Chase Young didn’t have a sack in the last two games. And the defending champions on a 28-game winning streak await at the site of the two worst post season losses in Buckeye history.
Glass Half Full: Of course, we’re going to struggle in the toughest three game stretch we have seen since 2014 and that any team as seen this season! But we won! Yes, Fields has some rough overthrows, but he still has only thrown one pick in 13 games! It’s my belief that he is being coached that way; to put it where either a Buckeye or the turf is going to catch the pass, and it’s worked pretty well to the tune of 40 touchdown passes and one interception. And if you still are annoyed by the overthrows, think of this; even if tough situations in the past three games, Justin Fields hasn’t forced throws into traffic. His intelligence is uncanny for anyone let alone someone so young and still soaking up experience. Chase Young is going to have lower numbers when he’s being triple teamed and held. As I’ve already pointed out, he still had a monster game making the opposing offense plan around and away from him again. As far as history goes, I think Ryan Day will have his team ready to deal with it. Whether it’s embracing it or ignoring it the 2019 Buckeyes will be ready to write their own history.
2014 Moment: Jeremy Ruckert’s touchdown catch. Ruckert, Farrell, and Berry this year have been a lot like Heuerman and Vannett were in 2014 and that wasn’t anymore apparent or important than in this game and honestly their contribution should have been even larger if not for some pesky overthrows. Ruckert’s insane one-handed catch was out of this world. I kept shouting to the Buckeye and Badger fans around me; “How did he catch that?!” With how open he was on that play and how open he and the others were getting at important times look for them to be like Vannett and Heuerman were in 2014; big factors in a possible national title run.
2002 Moment: Wisconsin had the lead and the ball at the Ohio State 20-yard line when the defense stand of the game was made. They finally got called for holding the defense, which backed them up to the Buckeye 30, then Zach Harrison beat one-on-one blocking for a sack and a loss of two yards. Then on 2nd and 22 the Badgers got stopped for no gain, and the Best in America forced an incompletion on third down. Wisconsin missed a 48-yard field goal and that was all she wrote for the Badgers. The Buckeyes smelled blood in the water, and the aforementioned K.J. Hill show got started and they never looked back.
-968 Moment: Winning the Big Ten is a critical step on the road to winning a national championship. Hoisting what will one day be known as a classic trophy is fantastic. While we probably would have been in regardless, I think the mountain would have been that much steeper after a loss than after a B1G Championship. The Buckeyes moved to 61-18-5 all-time against the Badgers, including an eight-game winning streak dating back to Braxton Miller out dueling Russell Wilson.
Overtime: As I finished this up it was announced that Chase Young and Justin Fields are Heisman finalists and will be in New York for the ceremony on Saturday. While I’m thrilled for those two, I truly wish J.K. Dobbins was going with them. He deserves it. He hasn’t gotten the individual accolades he deserves so, here’s to him getting the ultimate team title of 2019. Wisconsin fans were chanting “F*** Ohio!” and “F*** you!” at Ohio State fans in the first half acting like the Wolverines (and their odd hatred for our brothers and sisters in Athens) so in the second half they got treated like that team up north! Beat Clemson! O-H!