Madison, Wisconsin- There is an old adage in football, “Defense travels.” It is well known that the offense may struggle in a hostile environment, especially with a green quarterback and refitting the pieces as his weapons return; this was precisely the case as the Buckeyes found themselves unable to dominate the Wisconsin Badgers. In a game that should have been a clear statement for the initial College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State could not capitalize in a few key moments and will undoubtedly leave the critics pondering if they are genuine contenders.
Receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and running back TreVeyon Henderson were able to carry the Buckeye offense as their quarterback struggled. Kyle McCord lost a fumble and threw two poorly timed interceptions that may have turned the game's tide if it wasn’t for the stellar defensive gameplay. The Buckeye offense looked stagnant at times as they failed to finish drives.
The game may have played out differently if the Badgers had all their weapons available. Running back Chez Mellusi broke his hand in the first half and was not seen at all from the third quarter on. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai was injured in last week’s game, severely hindering the already slow-tempo Badger offense. Wisconsin’s defense has an amazing secondary, able to get turnovers, but ultimately, it’s hard to contain every piece of this Buckeye offense.
Ultimately, Marvin Harrison Jr. would get two touchdowns on over 100 yards of receiving. TreVeyon Henderson was finally back in action and secured the win with his typical homerun-style carry to the end zone. The Buckeyes clearly have the best player in the entire country, worthy of real Heisman consideration in Harrison Jr., and having Henderson back in the fold will force every opponent to think twice while trying to slow the Bucks down.
Nothing is ever as it appears. The offense looks to be developing slower than the Buckeye faithful expected. The offense has seen, on average, a 10-point dip per game. However, quarterback Kyle McCord has only made his tenth start, and I’m still a firm believer that he will develop into the superstar quarterback Ryan Day sees him as. Luckily, McCord has excellent weapons to rely on as he develops; he must tame the poor throws and reads before the game against Michigan. In the meantime, the folks in Columbus needn’t worry, as this defense will carry them through most games. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has his position groups firing on all cylinders to the point where every opponent should fear them. The backs fly to the ball, the linebackers are aggressive, all while the Rushmen disrupt the backfield nearly every play. The only thing I’d like to see more of is forced turnovers. That said, the Bucks are playing smart defensively while not giving up too much yardage on any given play and getting crucial stops at key times.
The Badgers are in a four-way tie for first in the Big Ten West, and if they can pull things together, they may be a threat in Indianapolis for the conference championship game (although, at this point, it would be more competitive to let the top two teams from the East play each other). Head coach Luke Fickell is already without starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai, and now starting running back Chez Mellusi has a broken hand. The Badgers must dig deep to stay competitive in the uncompetitive West.
(3) Ohio State, 8-0 (5-0), will head to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 6-2 (3-2) and former Ohio State assistant coach Greg Schiano. Although Rutgers was probably hoping for a night game to excite the crowd, it will take place Saturday, 11/4, at Noon Eastern.
Wisconsin, 5-3 (2-3), will look to rebound after a tough loss to Ohio State by heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the struggling Hoosiers, 2-6 (0-5) on Saturday, 11/4, at Noon Eastern. Playing the Hoosiers worked last week for Penn State, and there’s no reason to expect anything less, as Wisconsin should be able to rebuild their season.
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