In the past, a Wisconsin versus Ohio State football game would be coined as a “big-boy Big Ten affair”. It did not end up that way this Saturday. In the first half, the Buckeyes did whatever they wanted to Wisconsin’s defense. They beat the Badgers 52-21.
Wisconsin is known for its defense, one that is usually the best in the league, maybe even the country. Every team that plays Wisconsin is aware of the powerhouse defensive talent. On Saturday, however, our once-strong defensive team was no match for the speed and talent that the Ohio State offense holds.
Photo Cred: YouTube
The Buckeyes came out firing with touchdown drives on their first four possessions. The Badgers were either too stunned to gain composure or just simply not prepared. They also didn’t have the defensive stamina or roster to hold off the Buckeyes.
There really isn’t much to write about regarding Wisconsin’s offensive plays in the first half of the game. Ohio State running back Miyan Williams started off the blowout with a two-yard touchdown run on the opening drive. This was swiftly followed by two straight touchdown throws from quarterback C.J. Stroud to tight end Cade Stover. Apparently, they never use him but the show he put on Saturday would suggest otherwise.
Photo Cred: News-Herald
Williams ran for another touchdown in the endzone in the second quarter, leaving Wisconsin fans embarrassed and depressed. They crossed their fingers hoping that this wouldn’t be an absolute 70-0 blowout. To say that Ohio State came out strong and fast in the first half would be an understatement.
Ohio State led 21-0 after the first quarter and was up 31-7 at halftime. Stroud threw his first pick late in the second quarter, so that’s something.
The Buckeyes did what the Badgers usually do best but better. Ohio State is ranked third in the nation and definitely is the best team in the Big Ten.
Photo Cred: The Draft Wire – USA Today
Quarterback Graham Mertz, Wisconsin’s three-year starter, threw for only 94 yards against the Buckeye defense. Meanwhile, Stroud threw for 281 yards and five touchdowns. The Buckeyes were missing their two starting cornerbacks due to injuries. Despite that, Mertz still could not find his receivers’ hands against second-string cornerbacks.
The MVP of the game for Wisconsin was, as always, sophomore running back Braelon Allen. He had 165 rushing yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. Unfortunately, Allen did not get the help and support he normally should’ve from Mertz throughout the game.
Photo Cred: 247 Sports
The worst part of the game was seeing tight end Clay Cundiff getting driven off the field after suffering a left leg fracture. Cundiff suffered a season-ending leg injury last season and worked hard to get back onto the field. From the way he had been playing, he was going to be one of Wisconsin’s top tight ends and offensive weapons for their team. In the past four games, Cundiff had caught nine passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Mertz will now be without one of his top targets in the passing game.
Confidence-wise, Wisconsin will need to recover from a blowout like the one they experienced on Saturday. At the same time, they will also be looking to the younger players to step up and take on roles to fill in the gaps that are missing. One of these gaps will be Cundiff, one of Wisconsin’s most well-rounded and talented tight ends.
Photo Cred: Saturday Tradition
It has been a really hard season for the Badgers so far. Playing Ohio State did not improve their confidence nor their standing as one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Hopefully, they are able to pull it together to win their division.
The 31 first-quarter points the Badgers gave up were the most since the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game loss to – you guessed it – the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin has stayed relevant over the past few years, especially after making it to the Rose Bowl with running back Jonathan Taylor leading their running game. This team will not reach its greatest potential without a change, though. Who knows where that change will come? Could be the Badgers’ starting quarterback or new talent coming in the next few years.
Photo Cred: Bucky’s 5th Quarter Photo Cred: ESPN
Wisconsin has the size to play mediocre teams and win. When playing powerhouse Big Ten teams like Ohio State, however, they simply do not have the depth and talent on the roster to win.
With Cundiff out for the foreseeable future, Hayden Rucci moves up to the No. 1 role at the tight end position.
Photo Cred: Alamy Photo Cred: Twitter
This weekend, the Badgers play another Big Ten team, Illinois. It will be a home game against the Fighting Illini this Saturday at 11:00 AM Central. Hopefully, the Badgers can get back on track this weekend.
As for ranks, Wisconsin ranks 30th in total offense this season, with 478.7 yards per game. Illinois ranks 47th with 455.3 yards per game.
This looks like a pretty even matchup, so my money is on the Badgers!
Photo Cred: YouTube