Three Key Stats: Tale of Two Halves, Pass Protection Struggles, Offensive Outperforms Previous Performance Against Badgers

By Jake Anderson on December 8, 2019 at 8:00 am
Wyatt Davis

For the second time this season, the Buckeyes have beaten the Badgers.

To be honest, it is quite the feat; it hasn't happened since 1896: 

The Buckeyes' 34-21 victory gave the program its third straight Big Ten championship and clinched its third trip to the College Football Playoff. The matchup was defined by the vastly different performances in the two halves, Wisconsin's pass rush, and the differences from this matchup to the one in Columbus. 

Ohio State, after being outgained by 64 yards in the first half, totaled over 100 yards more than the Badgers in the second half.

Let's be honest: the first 30 minutes were not fun. The Badgers, both Jonathan Taylor and Jack Coan, were running all over Ohio State's staunch defense, even gaining 40 yards on a throwaway play before the end of the first half to extend its lead. 

Team First Half Yards Second Half Yards Total Yards
Ohio State 232 260 492
Wisconsin 294 138 432

The Buckeyes have been famous for its quick-runs all season long and it was only a matter of time before the inevitable came to fruition. This time, it just took a little longer than usual. 

After allowing 8.6 yards per play, the Silver Bullets hunkered down, allowing just 138 yards and zero points in the final 30 minutes. 83 of those yards came on Wisconsin's last drive in the final 98 seconds. 

Offensively, Ohio State did not have to change much. The Buckeyes were playing well on that side of the ball, they just needed to finish their drives with points. In the final two quarters, the local team got in the red zone five times, scoring a touchdown thrice and kicking a field goal two more times. 

For the second time this season, Wisconsin sacked quarterback Justin Fields five times.

The Buckeyes just can not seem to block the Badgers. 

The Big Ten West Champions have been the fifth-best pass-rushing team in the nation this year, averaging nearly four sacks per game. Against the Bucks, however, the Badgers seem to take it up another notch. 

Wisconsin sacked Justin Fields five times last night for 34 yards, making it the second time in a row that the Badgers have been able to toy with Ohio State's offensive line. In addition to the five sacks, Wisconsin officially recorded one hurry, a forced fumble, and a number of misthrows. 

With Justin Fields' knee injury, keeping him off the ground was more important than ever. Instead, he was on the ground as much as he has been all season long. 

The Buckeyes' offense performed better in the Big Ten Championship Game than it did in Columbus. The defense, however, was worse in Indianapolis.

Despite the anxiety that came with a 14-point deficit and single-digit number on the scoreboard heading into halftime, Ohio State's offense actually played better last night than it did in its first meeting with Wisconsin. 

The Buckeyes gained 431 yards and scored 38 points on that rainy day, averaging 6.0 yards per play. In the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State gained 492 yards and scored 34 points while averaging 6.3 yards per play. The extra yards did not directly contribute to more points, obviously, as the Bucks fumbled inside the ten and settled for two red zone field goals, but Ohio State was able to be more productive despite getting the Badgers' best, most prepared shots. 

Defensively, this was not the case. Wisconsin went from 191 yards and seven points on an abysmal 3.7 yards per play in the first meeting to 432 yards, 21 points, and 6.1 yards per play. The Buckeyes made adjustments at halftime, of course, but the Badgers' first-half blitzkrieg was nearly enough to sink the ship. 

Overall, however, the Buckeyes' comeback victory can not be understated. Three straight Big Ten championships and a trip to the College Football Playoff is cause for celebration. 

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