Ohio State grade card: Buckeyes ace latest biggest test


A grade card on Ohio State’s seventh consecutive win over Wisconsin:

OFFENSE: B+

After some early struggles, Ohio State put 38 points on the scoreboard against a Wisconsin defense that came into the game ranked No. 1 in the country in fewest points allowed and fewest yards per game allowed.

J.K. Dobbins ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns and outplayed Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who was regarded as one of the leading Heisman Trophy contenders. Justin Fields was 12 of 22 for 167 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball 13 times for 28 yards and a touchdown. Chris Olave caught two touchdown passes.

The offensive line got stronger as the game went along. OSU was forced to use Fields’ running skills probably more than it wanted to for most of the first half when the offense struggled to move the ball. But that changed in the second half and the Buckeyes finished with 431 yards, more than double Wisconsin’s season average of 193.9 yards a game allowed.

And, after allowing Fields to be sacked four times in the first half and a fifth time on the first series of the second half, OSU did not give up a sack in the final 28 minutes.

DEFENSE: A

Wisconsin seemed to think it could block Chase Young with one man but Young proved them wrong. Or maybe Young got to Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coane so quickly that the blocking help didn’t have time to make contact with him.

Young had four sacks and forced fumbles on two of them. His 13.5 sacks leads the country. He might be the best player in college football and will get votes for the Heisman Trophy.

Young’s big day overshadowed the fact the rest of OSU’s defense also played very well against Wisconsin. The Badgers had been behind only once in their first seven games and that came when Illinois kicked a game-winning field goal as time ran out. But OSU held Wisconsin to 191 yards total offense and only 83 yards rushing and never trailed the Badgers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A-

If not for a special teams mistake, Ohio State probably would have gotten a shutout. A partially blocked punt on OSU’s first possession of the second half set Wisconsin up on the Buckeyes’ 30-yard line and three plays later the Badgers scored their only touchdown.

There were better moments in this category, though. Blake Haubeil got OSU on the scoreboard for the first time with a 49-yard field goal. Freshman wide reciver Garrett Wilson had a 23-yard punt return and looked like maybe he should be getting more chances to return kicks.

OVERALL: A

Much was made of how Fields would respond to being in a one-possession game in the second half for the first time. He was in that situation when Wisconsin cut the lead to 10-7 early in the third quarter. He responded and so did the rest of the Buckeyes by outscoring Wisconsin 28-0 the rest of the way.

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