Ohio State Football: 5 Things to Take Away from Buckeyes' Win over Wisconsin
On a night where everyone who wasn't an Ohio State fan expected the Wisconsin Badgers to roll to victory, the young Buckeyes had other plans.
Right from the beginning, Ohio State was playing like a team who expected to win.
Even as the Badgers star running back Montee Ball scored the game's first touchdown on a 22-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Russell Wilson, you could see that the Buckeyes weren't overwhelmed.
A Drew Basil field goal followed by rushing touchdowns from quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Jordan Hall put the Buckeyes ahead 17-7 in the third quarter. Ball would score again, pulling the Badgers within three going into the fourth quarter.
This is the point in the game where Braxton Miller showed the nation why he was so highly touted coming out of high school. Miller scored on an option play, a 44-yard jaunt to the end zone that looked to be all the Buckeyes would need.
Up 26-14, however, OSU started to come apart much like against the Nebraska Cornhuskers a couple of weeks ago. A fumbled punt and a couple of poor defensive efforts later, the Buckeyes found themselves down 29-26 with just over a minute remaining in the game. Even with two timeouts remaining I wasn't sure Ohio State would be able to get into field-goal range, let alone score the game-winning touchdown.
After a couple of plays that didn't gain many yards, Miller took the snap on first down at the Wisconsin 40 with 30 seconds left. This is when the unthinkable happened to Wisconsin yet again, a week removed from their heartbreaking loss to Michigan State.
Miller was forced to run right by the Badgers pass rush, seemingly trying to run out of bounds as he sprinted back towards the line of scrimmage. Then, all at once, he launched a floating duck of a pass that looked as if it had been shot mid flight! To my surprise, wide receiver Devin Miller stood motionless in the end zone and caught the ball just before the defenders got to him.
After what seemed like five minutes, the clock finally ran out on the Badgers, giving Ohio State a much needed 33-29 victory.
The following are five things to remember after this monumental win.
1. Braxton Miller Is the Real Deal
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Enough of the negativity, Buckeyes faithful!
All season, I have heard more fans against Braxton Miller than for him. I'm not sure why, but most seem to expect Miller to go out there and put up huge passing numbers. For one, he is only a kid! People forget that he is a true freshman trying to find his way against some of the best defenses in college football. This season is a learning experience, it and shouldn't be used against him.
He was 7-of-12 for only 89 yards, but don't forget the 40-yard touchdown pass he threw when his team needed him most. That was a play that a lot of quarterbacks wouldn't make as seniors, let alone as freshmen.
He added 99 rushing yards and two touchdowns against a defense regarded as one of the best in the country against the run.
Most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over at all.
Something tells me that fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman wouldn't have led this team anywhere but another loss.
Give the kid a chance. He's going to be a special player for the Buckeyes.
2. OSU Defense Is Still One of the Best
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As much as I would love to bash the defense for allowing a few comebacks this season, I can't.
When you take a step back and look at the games, don't forget how long this Ohio State defense has been forced to stay on he field every game. When the offense has struggled and gone three-and-out, the defense has to go out there without much of a break. Even still, they are flying around and making plays all game long.
Andrew Sweat specifically is a heck of a linebacker. The guy is expected to do so much, and he delivers, yet I heard a fan yell when he missed a tackle. Where was that guy when Sweat made several tackles in a row and forced Russell Wilson to get rid of the ball on the last play of the game?
Also realize that most of this defense is composed of young players who will return next season.
This defense will be just as good next season, if not even better.
As long as this is the case, Ohio State will win a lot of games, possibly even a championship in the next couple of years.
3. Run Defense Shuts Down Montee Ball
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Wisconsin running back Montee Ball finished with 85 yards on 17 carries, but he only had one run that really hurt the Buckeyes: a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter.
This is a guy who has 18 rushing touchdowns already and usually has his way against any defense. Last night was much different, and I'm sure he would agree.
Ball was hit hard and often, stopped in his tracks more often than not.
A back of his caliber is going to have some success, but Ohio State didn't let him win the game for Wisconsin. This was a must if Ohio State was going to win, and the defense stepped up to the challenge.
It isn't every day you see a player like Montee ball tackled so well for a whole game. He broke a couple of tackles, but not many to speak of.
If the defense plays this well from here on out, there isn't anybody going to rush for 100 yards on them.
I'm talking to you, Denard Robinson!
4. Dan Herron Runs Wild
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Senior running back Dan Herron is finishing his college career in style. After being suspended for the first six games of the season, Herron could have pouted and quit. He has done the opposite, rushing for 274 yards in two games.
He had 33 carries against the Badgers, leading to 160 huge yards total. The Buckeyes needed every yard, and he ran hard all game long.
Even when the Badgers seemed to have him stopped, his legs kept moving and he gained a few yards at a time. Averaging 4.8 yards a carry against this defense when they knew he was coming is something I'll never forget.
Neither should any of you.
He was in the wrong and served his punishment like a man, while Terelle Pryor got out of town as fast as he could.
Dan Herron is a team player and a true Buckeye.
5. This Team Doesn't Quit Fighting
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When the Buckeyes blew another late lead, all seemed lost.
Out of championship contention and full of adversity, this group of guys could have easily quit before the eventual game winning drive.
The crowd was down in the dumps, and Wisconsin was high-fiving and smiling as if they had already won the game.
Wisconsin was expected to win anyway, and now Ohio State had to pass the ball to win the game. Braxton Miller had only thrown 11 passes at this point, surely he was nervous and felt the pressure of the game on his shoulders.
Against all the odds, this team never gave up.
They all pulled together and won with heart and determination when almost everyone, including Buckeye fans, had given up on them.
If you don't take anything else away from this game, remember this slide. Remember that this young group of Buckeyes continued to fight every week no matter if a championship was on the line or not.
We could all take this lesson to heart from this football team in our own lives.
Don't ever quit.