Five Things: Henderson, Harrison and Hardy Defense Carry Ohio State Past Wisconsin in Camp Randall

By Chris Lauderback on October 29, 2023 at 10:10 am
TreVeyon Henderson
The Ryan Day Podcast
Presented by The 1870 Society

Ohio State once again leaned on its elite defense and the best player in college football to post a W, this time a 24-10 decision in primetime over Wisconsin in a raucous Camp Randall Stadium. 

The victory improved the Buckeyes to 8-0 on the season. Ohio State has a legit shot to be No. 1 when the first College Football Playoff rankings come out Tuesday night thanks to a resume boasting two top-10 wins though the eye test would suggest either Michigan or even Georgia belong ahead of the Buckeyes. 

What matters is last night however as the defense suffocated the Badgers, allowing points on just two of 12 drives, while Marvin Harrison Jr. turned in another difference-making outing with 123 yards and two scores. 

Back from injury, TreVeyon Henderson was also elite with 207 total yards and a score which in partnership with Harrison and the defense helped offset a poor pass blocking night from the offensive line and an uneven performance from quarterback Kyle McCord. 

But hey, road wins in the Big Ten aren't supposed to be easy and this was certainly a tough ask coming on the heels of an emotional and physical victory over then-No. 7 Penn State last weekend. 

Another roadie looms next Saturday as the Buckeyes head to Piscataway, New Jersey to face Rutgers but before we dig into the Scarlet Knights, here are Five Things from Ohio State's 14-point win over Luke Fickell's squad. 


Ohio State RB1 TreVeyon Henderson hadn't played in a game in over a month but he sure didn't look rusty or out of shape in a 28-touch, 207-yard, one-touchdown performance that saw him team with wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. to carry the Buckeye offense. 

Henderson flashed electric burst and quick lateral movement but stamina might have been the most impressive facet of his night. 

His 24 carries and 162 yards (6.8 ypc) were both good for the second-most of his Ohio State career. Henderson logged five carries of at least 10 yards and those chunk runs helped take some pressure of an offensive line that's proven it will struggle for large stretches. 

Henderson's lone touchdown was a dagger as he galloped 33 yards on a 2nd-and-8 snap to put Ohio State in front 24-10 with 5:15 left in regulation. 

The versatile gamebreaker added four catches on five targets for 45 yards including a 30-yard catch and run on a swing pass to help set up a field goal giving the Buckeyes an early 3-0 lead. 

With Henderson leading the way, the Buckeyes ran for 181 yards, good for the second-most this season. 

Ohio State's offense can still look extremely ordinary at times but having Henderson back to complement Harrison's own big play ability can't be understated. That said, as hard as Henderson ran with the football, he should be less intent on taking/delivering a shot at the end of touches. 

He got smoked a few times last night and while he bounced back up and I'm sure his teammates appreciate his passion, history says he should be more intentional to avoid those unnecessary hits. 


If it wasn't already confirmed, Marvin Harrison Jr. again showed he's not from this world as he recorded six catches for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns with zero drops. 

While he finally had Henderson back to give Ohio State another homerun hitter, Harrison's big night was clutch considering No. 2 wide receiver Emeka Egbuka didn't play again, tight end Cade Stover was a non-factor in the pass game and No. 3 wideout Julian Fleming was banged up. 

With Ohio State leading 3-0 early, Ryan Day dialed up the same shallow cross-play for Harrison that put the Penn State game on ice and Marv responded by snatching a McCord throw and racing 16 yards to the end zone for a 10-0 lead at the 10:36 mark of the second quarter. 

Midway through the third quarter, just after Wisconsin managed to tie the score at 10-10, Harrison recorded a 16-yard grab before a ridiculous 19-yard touchdown catch. Facing 2nd-and-12, Harrison raced up the right sideline, adjusted to an underthrown ball, fought through a hand in his face and got his foot down in tight quarters to Moss the Badger defender for a 17-10 Ohio State lead. For Harrison, it was a rather routine play. 

With all six of his receptions going for first downs or touchdowns against the Badgers, 15 of his last 17 catches, going back to last week's performance against Penn State, have gone for a first down or touchdown. 

For an offense sporting a wobbly offensive line and a first-year starting quarterback, Harrison has proven to be the consistent cheat code capable of covering up mistakes and shortcomings. He may not win the Heisman but it's hard to argue he isn't the most talented and most valuable player in college football. 


With pretty much everyone on offense not named Harrison or Henderson struggling against the Badgers, the Ohio State defense stepped up in spades once again. 

As McCord turned it over three times in the first half which helped limit Ohio State's offense to 10 points, the Silver Bullets shut down the Badgers, allowing only a field goal to end the half which came via a short field. That field goal drive saw the Buckeyes stone the Badgers four times near the goal line with Tommy Eichenberg stuffing Braelon Allen on 3rd-and-goal from the 1 to force the kick. 

Ohio State led 10-3 at intermission thanks to its defense holding the Badgers to 83 total yards, five first downs and 1-of-6 on third down conversion tries in the opening 30 minutes. The Buckeyes harassed quarterback Braedyn Locke into an 8-for-15 half for 43 yards. 

After the Badger field goal to end the half, Jim Knowles' group surrendered a 7-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half bringing the score to 10-10 with 12:30 left in the third quarter. 

It was lockdown city from there, however. Over the next five possessions, Ohio State forced three straight punts and back-to-back turnovers on downs. The Badgers tallied 97 yards over those five empty possessions on a modest 3.1 yards per play. 

Defensive tackle Tyleik Williams was again unstoppable with four tackles, a sack, two TFLs and a pass breakup. Defensive end Jack Sawyer was also active with six stops and a forced fumble. In the secondary, Jordan Hancock posted four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. 

Ohio State's defense still hasn't allowed more than 17 points in any game so far this season and held opponents to 10 points or less in five of eight contests. 

The 10 points allowed last night are right on the season average which ranks No. 2 in the country behind Michigan (5.9 ppg). 


While Ohio State cranked out its second-highest rushing yards total of the season, there were again enough warts up to keep the offensive line at the top of the short list of concerning things with this team. 

The Buckeyes, with Henderson providing a much-needed spark, averaged 5.4 sack adjusted yards per carry though that average dipped to 4.2 to include all carries/sacks. 

Through seven games against FBS opponents, Ohio State has averaged 5.0 yards per carry or better just once (W. Kentucky, 6.2) and they've averaged at least a half-yard more per carry than those defenses are giving up just twice (W. Kentucky, Notre Dame). On the season, the Buckeyes are still averaging under four yards per carry (3.9) to rank 92nd in the country and 9th-best in the Big Ten. 

Last night, however, pass blocking was a bigger issue as McCord was sacked four times. Yeah, his pocket presence needs work but the pass pro was still inconsistent. Early in the season the narrative was that pass blocking was the main strength of the guys up front as Ohio State allowed just four sacks through the first four games. Over the last four games however, the Buckeyes have given up 12 sacks (Wisconsin 4, Penn State 2, Purdue 3, Maryland 3). 

More than once the Badgers simply had Ohio State outnumbered but there were indeed issues at right tackle with Josh Fryar struggling to stay in front of his man. On the left side, Josh Simmons is the better blocker but another false start turned a 2nd-and-8 into a totally off-schedule 2nd-and-13 (though Harrison bailed him out on the next play). 

I know many fans are frustrated with McCord, and I get it, but upper-tier quarterback play usually requires complementary consistent line play (run and pass) and Ohio State simply doesn't have it. Eight games in, it's getting harder to think the offensive line can be much better than it is right now. 


For all the angst about McCord's play, the dude has shown a knack for making big plays when needed and settling into solid grooves for stretches. He's also shown resiliency and toughness highlighted by last night's battling through an ankle injury when the Buckeyes really didn't have another quarterback option. 

He's also shown issues with accuracy, even on completions via poor ball placement at times, forcing guys like Harrison to make too many non-standard catches and/or catches that require so much adjustment that yards after catch are compromised. Pocket presence remains a concern as he struggles to sense pressure, escape and buy time although again, his offensive line hasn't done him a ton of favors. 

All of that said, he entered last night with just one interception in 205 attempts. Against the Badgers however, he completed 17 of 26 throws (65%) for a season-low 226 yards and two touchdowns but he also tossed two interceptions, lost a fumble, was sacked four times and was flagged for intentional grounding twice. 

The first interception was probably his worst decision of the season as he rolled right on a 1st-and-goal at the Wisconsin 9 and threw a ball toward the front left pylon that had virtually zero chance of being caught by a teammate. Instead, it was picked by Preston Zachman for a touchback keeping Ohio State's lead at 3-0. 

The second pick came on 1st-and-15 from the Badger 44 and Ohio State leading 10-0. Looking for Harrison over the middle, McCord's throw into Cover 3 was snared by Ricardo Hallman who came off his zone to make a nice play. I admit, I felt like it was another poor decision but in the postgame, Day said he didn't blame McCord so much for that one <shrug>. 

Both of his intentional grounding flags came on 3rd-and-8 snaps in the second half after his ankle was dinged. The first knocked Ohio State out of field goal range and was nearly a lateral. Not a great play for sure but wow the root cause was Fryar barely touching his edge rusher assignment. The second, from the Wisconsin 41, saw the OSU front outnumbered and it was a jailbreak heave to nowheresville. 

With Ohio State leaning on the defense, holding a lead and McCord both struggling and nicked up, he attempted just seven passes in the second half, completing all seven for 86 yards including the 19-yard touchdown strike to Harrison giving the Buckeyes a 17-10 lead midway through the third quarter. 

McCord has to be better and maybe my rose-colored glasses are too thick but I think he can. His decision-making as a passer was largely fine entering last night though some sloppy handles, pocket presence and ball placement issues have persisted.

He's not C.J. Stroud - guys like that are in short supply believe it or not - but if the line can consistently give him more time and Egbuka can get back healthy, I think the passing game has the chops to be a key strength in a big game under McCord's direction. 

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