Before Wisconsin's loss to Illinois, it was going to be Ohio State's signature win. Now, however, we may have to wait for Penn State to come to town.
The away team's tough style of play and the rainy weather did not prove to be the deadly combination that some expected it to be as the Bucks ran all over the Badgers, winning 38-7. Ohio State opted to keep the ball on the ground for most of the day, running the ball on nearly 70% of their plays.
In today's Inside the Box, we'll look at Dobbins' claim as the best back in the country, Chase Young's rise to the upper echelon of Ohio State defensive linemen, and how the weather affected the Buckeyes' special teams.
Is Dobbins the Best Running Back in the Country?
Coming into the new year, few expected a career year from the Ohio State tailback. The preseason betting lines had him pegged for just 1,100 rushing yards and 9.5 touchdowns in the regular season.
If you took the over when Kevin told you to, you should be receiving your check in the mail any day now.
J.K. Dobbins has 1,110 rushing yards and nine touchdowns through eight games this season, becoming the only running back in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his freshman, sophomore, and junior season. His rushing total is the second-best mark in the nation, behind only Chuba Hubbard, the sophomore tailback of Oklahoma State.
When comparing the Ohio State junior to some of the nation's top preseason names, including Clemson's Travis Etienne, Georgia's D'Andre Swift, and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, Dobbins does more than hold his own.
Dobbins has risen to the top of this year's running back class and is chasing Buckeye legends in the process. He currently has the fourth-most career rushing yards (3,566 yards) in Ohio State history. The junior tailback needs 202 more rushing yards to pass third-place Eddie George and just 396 more rushing yards to pass second-place Ezekiel Elliott.
Can Anything Else Be Said About Chase Young?
The junior defensive end has been better-than-advertised and should end up being the first defensive player since Manti Te'o in 2012 to be nominated for the Heisman trophy. No defensive lineman has ever won the award.
Young's dominant season will see him easily break Vernon Gholston's school record for sacks (14 sacks) in a single season. In fact, the more tantalizing mark may be the national record, which is held by Terrell Suggs, who had 24 sacks in his 2002 campaign. He is currently on pace to break the mark if the Buckeyes end up playing for the National Championship.
While Ohio State has seen some dominant defensive linemen in the past 15 years, none of them compare to Chase Young.
Furthermore, Pro Football Focus has stated that Chase Young is the highest-graded defensive player in the history of the company. His 96.4 grade would demolish the 94.4 mark set by Josh Allen last year.
Young is becoming a Heisman favorite, potential No. 1 overall pick, and one of the best pass rushers in college football history right in front of our eyes.
Chrisman Struggles, Haubeil Excels in the Rain
Drue Chrisman is one of the best punters in the nation. He did not have a good game on Saturday.
The typically-reliable punter had two punts go for less than 30 yards (13, 28) and just one traveled over 50 yards. The Badgers took advantage of the tipped punt, scoring their only points of the contest on the ensuing drive.
Coming into Wisconsin, Ohio State was averaging nearly 47 net yards per punt, which would be the best mark in the nation. Now, the Bucks are averaging just over 42 net yards a punt, dropping them to No. 18 in the nation.
While Ohio State punted just four times, the Buckeyes had a worse average starting field position than their opponent for the second time this year (Michigan State being the first). The home team's defense is not to blame; the Bucks kept Wisconsin in check the entire game, allowing just one drive of over forty yards.
That drive was ended by Chase Young.
This just aint fair. pic.twitter.com/rmKPXdqMOD— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 26, 2019
Chrisman's struggles in the rain should not come as a surprise. He was even spotted taking extra steps to make sure he got a handle on the ball before punting it, which may have messed up his rhythm.
This punt may or may have not been blocked by Wisconsin... Either way, it only went 13 yards! pic.twitter.com/6Q8Ua4IkEn— I'M SEEING GHOSTS (@FTBeard11) October 26, 2019
While the punting game was largely affected by the weather, Blake Haubeil's was not. The junior placekicker hit a crucial 49-yard field goal in the second quarter to give Ohio State the lead.
The kick's impact can not be understated. It reenergized the crowd and opened up the scoring in what was becoming a more and more dreary day. The Bucks scored a touchdown on five of their next six possessions.
While the Buckeyes are off next week for the second time this year, they'll be just two unranked opponents away from perhaps one of the most difficult three/four/five-game stretches in college football history. Games against No. 5 Penn State and No. 14 Michigan are set in stone while a possible Big Ten Championship matchup and bowl game(s) loom in the distance.