Ohio State vs. Wisconsin final score: 3 things we learned from the Buckeyes’ 59-0 beatdown of Bucky
The Buckeyes annihilated the Badgers Saturday night, but will it be enough to get into the top 4?
The Ohio State Buckeyes won their 35th Big Ten football championship, and first since 2009, with a 59-0 blowout victory over Wisconsin Saturday. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter advantage, then bombarded the Badgers with three touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter to put Wisconsin away.
Ohio State sophomore halfback Ezekiel Elliott set a new Big Ten Championship Game record with 220 rushing yards — a record previously held by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon — adding a pair of scores. Receiver Devin Smith caught four Cardale Jones passes for 137 yards, with three of those catches going for touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin managed just 259 total yards of offense against the OSU defense and turned the ball over four times, including a backbreaking Melvin Gordon fumble late in the second quarter that Buckeye defensive end Joey Bosa returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Joel Stave, forced to throw due to the early Ohio State lead, completed just 17/43 for 188 yards and 3 interceptions.
Three Things We Learned
1. You want style points? Ohio State’s got your style points. Ohio State needed a team in the top 4 to lose this week to open a playoff spot. It didn’t get that. Absent an opening in the bracket, the Buckeyes were left to make such a striking impression on the Selection Committee that it would have no choice but to bump Florida State or TCU from the final four to make room. On that front, they did about as well as could be expected. OSU scored on five of its first six drives, racking up 31 points on the Badgers’ No. 2-ranked defense before Wisconsin realized the game had started. On the other side of the ball, the Ohio State defense held Wisconsin’s prolific offense to 106 first-half yards, forced two turnovers, returned one of those turnovers for a touchdown, and held Melvin Gordon to just 76 yards, his lowest total against an FBS opponent this season. The Buckeyes scored another touchdown on their first offensive series of the second half. It didn’t matter. Everyone had stopped watching.
For more on the machinations of the Playoff Committee, read our Playoff predictions thread.
2. Every Ohio State quarterback is the best Big Ten quarterback. The Buckeyes lost two-time reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Braxton Miller in late August. Urban Meyer turned the keys over to freshman J.T. Barrett, who struggled in the Buckeyes’ loss to Virginia Tech but was a potential Heisman Trophy candidate by November. When Barrett broke his ankle last week, many wondered if that would be the end of Ohio State’s playoff hopes. Wisconsin was a favorite Saturday night, based almost exclusively on worries over third-string quarterback Cardale Jones.
And then Jones threw completed 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and a trio of touchdowns, showing that those fears were largely unfounded. In a conference severely lacking in quarterback talent, Urban Meyer is guarding an embarrassment of riches. Spring practice in Columbus is going to be very interesting.
3. Oh Wisconsin. If the Big Ten West wanted to show that it belonged with its storied brethren in the East, it did not get far Saturday. The Badgers had won a de facto Big Ten West tournament over the season’s last three weeks, systematically knocking off Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota to lock up the division title. Whether it was exhaustion from those three previous games or just another instance of Wisconsin not showing up for half of a game, it did the Badgers, and the Big Ten West, no favors.