Questions will continue to persist about the Buckeyes worthiness to wear the #1 tag, but they have done something that no other #1 has done this year, win when they were challenged. It was not a pretty win, but it was a win all the same. The Buckeyes returned to a physical run-oriented offense after falling behind 17-10 in the third quarter and the end result was impressive. Beanie Wells ran for three second half TDs and put 140 yards rushing up on the Badgers in the third and fourth quarters.
The Buckeyes came out flat and the early play calling was questionable, and the Buckeyes offensive play calling did not really seem to establish anything, eerily reminiscent of the 2006 National Championship Game. If you were one of the few that saw the game on the Big Ten Network and you listened to those idiot announcers, then they probably left you with the impression that the Buckeyes struggled to run the ball early. The Buckeyes were able to move the ball effectively on the ground early but shot themselves in both feet with holding and procedure penalties. Wells' first five carries went for 28 yards and the push and movement on the line was impressive. The Buckeyes inexplicably abandoned the run, and Wisconsin happy to step up and take away the deep options from a suddenly one-dimensional offense.
Ohio State's defense looked susceptible downfield, and they were burned by a talented tight end for a second straight week. Malcolm Jenkins, Chmidi Chekwa, and Anderson Russell continued to abandon form tackling in favor of highlight reel hits and it cost the Buckeyes this week. Rewatch the game, nearly every single big play started with a missed, shoulder high hit.
The defensive line came up huge this week as the Buckeyes registered ten sacks against a gigantic Wisconsin line. Vernon Gholston led the way with an Ohio State record four sacks and continues to lead the Big Ten in uncalled holding penalties. Here is a hint for officials, if a defensive lineman is past his blocker and still can't seem to move forward it is probably because the offensive lineman has a handful of jersey. I counted no less than four uncalled holds on Gholston, thank god for DVRs.
Todd Boeckman continued to be the most efficient game manager in the Big Ten. Ohio State did not ask him to do a lot today, but he was terrific when called upon. Boeckman finished the game with 166 yards on 17-28 passing for 2 TDs and most importantly no interceptions. It was very Krenzelesque.
Beanie Wells continues to be one of the most underrated backs in the NCAA. His ability is never more apparent than when Maurice Wells is in the game in his place. With the exact same line and the exact same blocking Beanie makes big plays where Maurice struggles. Wells (the good one) put up another 168 yards and 3 TDs on 21 carries. For the mathematically impaired, that is an average of 8 yards per carry. Makes you wonder where Wells would be in the Heisman discussion if he were healthy to start the season.
Speaking of Heisman worthy Buckeyes, James Laurinaitis continues to make big plays every time the Buckeyes need him. Included in Laurinaitis 19 tackles were three enormous shots on special teams coverage and a key tackle on a fake punt in the fourth quarter. If the Heisman Trophy was truly awarded to the best player in the country, regardless of position, Laurinaitis would have to be given a ticket to New York. I was unsure if Laurinaitis was as good as advertised going into the season; I now stand convinced.
Grading the Positions:
Offensive Line: A. It all starts upfront and the offensive line was sensational today. The line got great push and great movement. Steve Rehring made some great lead blocks, including a cut block that sprung Beanie for a big fourth quarter touchdown. Todd Boeckman had plenty of time to throw. The balance, which is probably Ohio State's greatest offensive weapon, starts up front, and you will not often find a line that is as good pass blocking and run blocking as this line.
Running Backs: A+. I thought Beanie Wells was a man among boys when I saw him play in the Army All American game as a high school senior. I now think that he is a man among boys in Division I football. He picked up the tough yards and showed great burst, scoring three TDs in excess of 20 yards around the edge. His vision was terrific as he destroyed the Badgers by picking the right cutback lane every time.
Wide Receivers: B. They weren't asked to do much, but they did what they were asked to do. Robo continues to remind me of Cris Carter, I think that is all that guy does is catch touchdowns, and he added two more to his tally. Brian Hartline does not get a lot of press, but he reminds me a lot of Anthony Gonzalez. He is absolutely fearless in the middle of the field and he catches everything.
Quarterback: B. Todd Boeckman was not asked to do a lot today, but he did all that he needed to in order to keep the Buckeyes undefeated. He made several key runs, although not beautiful, they were effective. He runs a lot like Krenzel, it makes Barry Sanders cry, but he gets the job done.
Defensive Line: A. The Buckeyes recorded ten sacks, eight from the defensive line. They were able to get to the quarterback as long as the secondary was able to maintain coverage. The Buckeyes were susceptible to the run, but that was not really on the defensive line; they did a good job maintaining their gaps and occupying their blockers.
Linebackers: B. James Laurinaitis A. Wow. Thad Gibson appears to be the real deal as a rush end. While watching the game again, I got a chance to slow it down, and this kid is impressive. He has great speed and surprising power for a back his size. There is one play where he actually threw an off-balance 300lb tackle to the ground on his way to Donovan. He really knows how to get after the quarterback, now if only he could stay out of the coaches' doghouses.
Secondary: C-. Wondering where all the yards came from? Well, I think Malcolm Jenkins has been reading a few too many press clippings telling him how great he is. Jenkins used to be one of the Buckeyes surest tacklers, but ever since the Buckeyes began using him as a safety, he has attempted to make big hits a la Ronnie Lott, vice just making the play. Chmidi Chekwa was serviceable, but he is starting to pick up some of Jenkins sloppy tackling. Travis Beckum routinely toasted Anderson Russell, it was pretty obvious Russell was overmatched, but the coaching staff never really sent him any help. When an Ohio State safety cannot cover a TE, the TE is pretty good. The secondary is going to have to play better against Michigan and in Ohio State's bowl game.
Coaching: B-. The coaching staff seemed surprised by Wisconsin's zone defense. I really think the staff was expecting the Badgers to attack the line of scrimmage more, but the Badgers were content to try to keep the plays in front. That is out of character for Bielema's Badgers; they typically take a lot of risks and Ohio State's staff was very slow to adjust (taking until the 3rd quarter to get back to the run).
Grading the Grader:
I said, "Don't be surprised if.... -The talk Saturday night is, "What happened to the Badgers?" And how the Buckeyes still haven't proven anything." I was wrong surprisingly, the media has chosen this as the week to rally behind the Buckeyes as the #1 team in the nation. F.
I said, "Don't be surprised if.... -Oregon steals the headlines by beating an overrated ASU team." Oregon deserved to steal the headlines, but they really did not get as many as I thought they would. C.
I said, "Don't be surprised if.... -Beanie Wells goes for 175 and two TDs." Well Beanie went for 168 and three TDs, sorry about that, but I am going to call that close enough. A+.
I said, "Don't be surprised if.... -Robo goes for 100+ and two more TDs." Robo recorded three receptions for 46 yards and two TDs. I did pretty decent on the TDs, but not so much on the yardage. I really expected Wisconsin to bring more pressure, and therefore, for the Buckeyes to go down the field more. Still pretty decent: B.
I said, "Don't be surprised if.... Big day for the defense, recording five sacks and three turnovers (two picks)." It was a big day for the defense. They recorded two more turnovers and an astonishing ten sacks. A.
I said to take the Buckeyes and the under, and yet again, I got the winner right but missed on the over/under. I need to stop picking it.
Props to the Prognosticator of the Week: Scott "The Fight Dr." Swerbinsky.
Scott nearly hit the score on the head, 37-13, for a five point total differential, and more importantly, he had Ohio State and the Over. Great job Spoon.
Up next: Illinois
Make your prediction here and perhaps it will be you that is the prognosticator of the week next week. There is no prize except knowing you are smarter than everyone else. Isn't that enough?