Ohio State separates from big ten contenders with winning statement as Michigan shows signs of weakness in conference opener
Most pundits already considered the Buckeyes the class of the conference entering this weekend. But before Ohio State and Michigan started their Big Ten program, there was at least one conversation to be had.
By the end of Saturday, there was no question as to who held the title of top dog during the first third of the regular season. The Wolverines may be the defending conference champions, but as far as the visual test goes, the Buckeyes look like the team to beat in the Big Ten in 2022.
“I think we showed what we are capable of. Now whether we do it every week is up to us,” Ryan Day said after Ohio State‘s blowout 31-point win over Wisconsin. “But I think you can see what this team is made of, and I think we’ve shown that in the first four games; what we can do and what we’re capable of. The big challenge, as we know all in college football, is that you have to bring it every week, and that’s the competitive stamina that we talked about every week.
Michigan looked impressive in matchups with less competition in the first three weeks, outscoring Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn 166-17 combined. Despite lacking a Power Five opponent in their non-conference schedule, this summary — on the heels of their college football playoff run last year — was good enough to give the Wolverines the No. 4 spot in the Top 25 APs.
A 17-point favorite to handle Mike Locksley and Maryland at home to start their Big Ten slate on Saturday afternoon, things didn’t go so smoothly. Michigan held a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter and needed a career-high 243 yards from running back Blake Corum to finish with a 34-27 win over the Terps. If Maryland hadn’t returned the ball three times during the day, this end result could have gone the other way.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 24, 2022
Ohio State, on the other hand, exceeded expectations. The Buckeyes closed as 19-point favorites over Wisconsin, but ended up dominating the Badgers well beyond that projected margin. By the end of the first quarter, Ohio State already led 21-0, trailing Wisconsin 210-23 in total yardage.
The Buckeyes took a 31-7 halftime lead and ended up bombarding Paul Chryst and company 52-21 by the end of the game – their ninth straight victory over a still-at-large Wisconsin program. vanguard of the conference title image in the Big Ten West Division.
“I think in the first half we distributed the ball pretty well, we had good momentum that came out quickly. It’s something we really want to do,” said CJ Stroud after the win. “And I think we built that chemistry with Cade (Stover), Emeka (Egbuka) and Marvin (Harrison Jr.) and really everyone who touched the ball did a great job.”
With its 77-point, 763-yard blowout against Toledo last week, Ohio State moved into first place in the nation in total offense. But success wasn’t supposed to come easily against the Badgers, who hadn’t given up more than 17 points to any opponent and were in the top-20 in most major defensive categories. Against the Buckeyes, however, Wisconsin wasn’t much tougher than Ohio State’s last two opponents.
The Buckeyes have scored touchdowns on their first four drives and at least three runs on their first five possessions. Ohio State left a slight opening for the Badgers to regain some momentum with a turnover late in the first half, but quickly snuffed it out with a pair of touchdown passes from Stroud in the third quarter .
Stroud finished with 281 yards, five touchdowns and an interception in another standout effort, which marked his third straight game with at least four assists. Even without Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Buckeye’s passing offense looked more dynamic than ever, as three different players caught touchdowns.
“It’s a big win for us. I mean, playing the way we did tonight was a lot of work. And I’m very, very proud of our team.”–Ryan Day
Ohio State was no less impressive on the field. TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams each rushed for over 100 yards, their first two times passing the century mark this season, and the Buckeyes were averaging six yards per carry by the end of the contest.
“TreVeyon and Miyan were both excellent. TreVeyon’s energy before the game was off the charts. You could just smell it,” Day said. “I mean, I felt it. Warming up, I felt it in the locker room. I felt it coming out of the locker room. And then he ran through there. He just ran hard. He ran physical “He ran with energy. And so did Miyan. Miyan ran hard. So I think we had something good in that room.
Perhaps the biggest question about the Buckeyes after their Week 3 performance was whether or not their defense would continue to concede slightly better outings to opponents week after week and how multiple starter injuries would impact that. tendency. Hurts continue to be a concern, with Ohio State’s top three corners being sidelined against Wisconsin. However, Jim Knowles and company still largely managed to dominate – at least until they fired the late starters.
Ryan Day expected Graham Mertz and Braelon Allen to be the best quarterbacks and running backs the Buckeyes have faced this season. In the end, Mertz couldn’t muster 100 passing yards and barely completed half of his passes. Except for a 75-yard touchdown against Buckeye’s substitutes, as part of a 98-yard fourth quarter, Allen would have been bottled up to little effect.
JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown held firm in their first career starts in place of Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown, and Tanner McCalister landed a pass from Mertz in the first half that put the Badgers behind the eight ball before he couldn’t find a rhythm. The standout defensive performance of the night belonged to Tommy Eichenberg, who racked up 14 tackles as Wisconsin struggled to get going for much of the night.
It was an all-around effort from the Buckeyes, despite a few points down for the Badgers when the game was already out of reach. In fact, Ohio State’s 52 points were the most Wisconsin has given up in a single game since the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game, when the Buckeyes defeated the Badgers, 59-0.
Aside from Ohio State and Michigan, only two other teams remain undefeated in the Big Ten after four weeks of action. Penn State climbs quickly in the standings with a 4-0 record, but has had disappointing efforts along the way. Minnesota enjoyed surprising success out of the West, posting monster offensive numbers against New Mexico State, Western Illinois and Colorado before crushing Michigan State in a 34-7 loss this weekend.
While many of these teams could undoubtedly pose a threat to the Buckeyes in any given week, not to mention the possibility of a trap game against an unmentioned upcoming opponent, they won’t be picked to beat. Ohio State. Not if he continues to play like he did on Saturday night, which saw the total obliteration of one of the Big Ten’s best teams.
“As good as it feels and as much as we want to celebrate it, we can’t spend too much time congratulating ourselves after this thing,” Day said. “Which is difficult because it’s a big win for us. I mean, playing like we did tonight was a lot of work. And I’m very, very proud of our team.