The news wasn't great before the game as Ohio State announced it would be without Jaxon Smith-Njigba and both starting cornerbacks but the evening turned into a breeze as C.J. Stroud and company torched Wisconsin, 52-21, in a blacked out Ohio Stadium.
Entering as 19-point favorites, Ryan Day's squad jumped out to a 21-0 lead with 3:55 left in the first quarter and never looked back.
Without Cameron Brown and Denzel Burke, thus thrusting inexperienced cornerbacks Jyaire Brown and JK Johnson into starting roles, those two held their own while back-liners Josh Procter and Tanner McCalister in particular provided a safety net. It didn't hurt the Buckeyes faced Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz who dropped to 2-7 versus ranked teams after completing 55% of this throws for just 94 yards with a costly pick.
The win improved Ohio State to 4-0 with a clash against Rutgers set for next Saturday. Before we begin a week of breaking down that matchup, here are Five Things that stood out during the Buckeyes' 31-point victory.
Pretty wild that during and after a game in which C.J. Stroud completed 17-of-27 throws for 281 yards with five touchdowns, it felt like he had a bit of an off night.
That speaks to us fans being spoiled but more so to the standard Stroud has set.
The second-year starter completed just 1-of-5 passes in the second quarter, including an errant toss resulting in an interception with 38 seconds before intermission that Day took the blame for postgame. It was probably a greedy play call and certainly a greedy throw but it didn't cost the Buckeyes anything but a miscue on the stat sheet as Wisconsin generated seven yards on the ensuing possession before turning it over on downs with three seconds left.
That said, Stroud wasn't as precise as last week when he put on a clinic. He was a bit high and wide with some throws that got tight end Cade Stover whacked a few times and Marvin Harrison Jr. pasted on another.
Beyond those minor issues, Stroud guided the Buckeyes to scoring drives on eight of 10 possessions with seven of those being touchdowns and he didn't take a sack for the second-straight game.
Take away the second quarter and Stroud completed 16-of-22 throws for 276 yards and five scores. Ho-hum.
Middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg has been outstanding this season and last night was his best game to-date as he paced the Buckeyes with 14 stops including two for loss.
In the decisive first half, Eichenberg showed his sideline-to-sideline speed posting eight stops and two TFL helping the Buckeyes to a 31-7 lead. Eichenberg locked in on Wisconsin's outstanding tailback Braelon Allen, helping hold him to 36 yards on eight first half carries.
Eichenberg's big night has him leading the team in tackles (33), tackles for loss (5) and sacks (2) through the first four games.
Averaging 8.3 stops per contest, Eichenberg's on pace to become Ohio State's first linebacker to post 100 tackles in a single season since Raekwon McMillan back in 2016.
More importantly, with Eichenberg leading the charge, the Buckeyes are giving up just 16.0 points per contest, good for No. 21 nationally.
DOMINANCE UP FRONT
Ohio State's offensive line keyed last night's victory, bullying the Badgers in both run blocking and pass pro.
Buckeye ball carriers racked up 258 rushing yards on 6.0 per attempt with top tailbacks TreVeyon Henderson (21 attempts, 121 yards) and Miyan Williams (11 attempts, 101 yards) combining for 222 yards on 6.9 per carry.
Paris Johnson Jr, Donovan Jackson, Luke Wypler, Matthew Jones and Dawand Jones set the tone early as Ohio State built a 21-0 first quarter lead on the strength of 7.6 yards per carry and 210 total yards, averaging 11.1 yards per play. With all day to throw, Stroud completed 9-of-10 passes in the first 15 minutes.
The Buckeyes boasted six runs of at least 10 yards in the first half (25 attempts) as Wypler, and the two Joneses owned the right side of the line.
You hardly noticed the line on dropbacks as Stroud had all day to go through his progressions. Last night marked the second-straight game the offensive line didn't allow a sack and the unit's only allowed two through four games, good for No. 6 nationally.
SHUT IT DOWN
Like seemingly every Wisconsin team over the last 100 years, the Badgers wanted to lean on a vaunted rushing attack to overcome a garbage passing game in an attempt to hang with elite competition. It didn't work.
While Ohio State's offense cranked out 31 points in the first half, the OSU defense held Wisconsin to 96 total yards, gave up just six first downs, forced three 3-and-outs, snagged and interception and created a turnover on downs as the Badgers managed seven points.
Mertz completed just 6-of-12 throws for a mere 49 yards and Allen posted a modest 36 rushing yards on 4.5 per try across the first two quarters.
Tommy Eichenberg was central to Ohio State's cause as outlined above, along with Tanner McCalister. The Oklahoma State transfer logged three stops, recorded an interception and his pass breakup at the end of the half ensure the Badgers wouldn't cut into OSU's then-24-point lead.
EGBUKA KEEPS SHINING
Coming into the 2022 season everyone knew Ohio State's wide receiver room was loaded but most of the talk centered on Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison, and rightfully so.
Heck even Julian Fleming was grabbing headlines as Ryan Day repeatedly gushed about his toughness and skill after battling injuries during most of his time in Columbus-to-date.
As a result, Emeka Egbuka wasn't quite getting the run I felt he deserved and man has he showed up in spades through four games with last night serving as the latest showcase.
With JSN on the shelf for at least another week and Harrison not as involved as previous weeks, Egbuka lit up the Badgers for six catches, 118 yards and two touchdowns.
The 118 yards marked his third-straight 100-yard receiving game (and he's recorded at least 90 receiving yards in all four). He still has some work to do but the school record of five-straight 100-yard receiving games held by Cris Carter is something to keep an eye on.
Through four games, Egbuka not only leads the team in catches (26), receiving yards (442), total touchdowns (6) and receiving touchdowns (5), he's ranked No. 6 nationally in receiving yards and No. 5 in the country averaging 110.5 receiving yards per game.
Not bad for a guy pretty much slotted as the No. 4 receiver by the staff coming into the season.