The best running back in the Big Ten doesn’t play in Madison, Wisconsin. He plays in Columbus, Ohio. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 58 yards as No. 3 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) powered past No. 13 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) to the tune of a 38-7 final score to cement Ohio State’s status as the class of the Big Ten.
Chase Young and the Buckeye defense was dominant as well, limiting Wisconsin’s star running back Jonathan Taylor to just 52 yards on 20 carries, including a long run of 14 yards on the afternoon. On a rainy afternoon in Ohio Stadium, Ohio State took control of the Badgers running game meant Jack Coan had to come up with the big plays to give Wisconsin a chance. Aside from a nice pass early in the second half, those opportunities just never transpired for Coan and the Badgers. Wisconsin was just 4-of-13 on third down and managed just 191 yards of total offense. Ohio State’s offense had a sluggish start against the best defense it has faced this season but ended the day with 432 yards of offense. The Buckeyes rushed for 264 yards as a team, with Master Teague III adding 76 yards to be the game’s second-leading rusher. Wisconsin also had two turnovers to Ohio State’s none.
Justin Fields had two touchdowns thrown and clearly played through some back pain as the game progressed. His 12 completions on 22 attempts for 167 yards weren’t quite what is typically expected of him, although his receivers had plenty of dropped passes as well in the slippery conditions.
Ohio State will get a week off before returning to the field for another game. The Buckeyes will host Maryland on Nov. 9. By then, the College Football Playoff rankings will have been released, giving us a sense of just where Ohio State stands in the eyes of the selection committee. Ohio State should be in a pretty good position, but the fate of the season will likely be determined in the final games of the season for Ohio State. After Maryland and a road game at Rutgers, Ohio State will host Penn State on Nov. 23 before closing out the regular season at Michigan. And then, a potential rematch with Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship? There are still some things to sort out in the Big Ten championship picture, but Ohio State just cleared the toughest hurdle yet for the Buckeyes. Barring a major upset in the next couple of games, all eyes can begin shifting to the last couple of games of the season in Columbus.
As for the Badgers, Wisconsin now falls two games back in the loss column in the Big Ten West Division behind Minnesota (who plays Maryland today, Rutgers next week). But Wisconsin still has a chance to win the Big Ten West. Their next game will be a big one, however. The Badgers also get next week off and will then host No. 20 Iowa on Nov. 9. The Badgers and Hawkeyes are currently tied in the division (Iowa was holding form against Northwestern).
A combination of two of the best defenses in the Big Ten and rain has led to some sloppy conditions for Ohio State and Wisconsin on offense. As such, it has taken a while to see some points being scored, but Ohio State is taking a 10-0 lead into halftime in Columbus. A touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Chris Olave in the final minute of the half gave the Buckeyes the double-digit lead.
Chris Young has been a beast for Ohio State’s defense, as the Badgers have had their work cut out for them. Jonathan Taylor has been limited to 25 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Jack Coan has completed just four passes for 26 yards (on nine attempts). Wisconsin has just 72 yards of offense, while Ohio State has picked up 180 yards. J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 51 yards for the Buckeyes, and he has caught two passes for 37 more yards. Fields has had pressure at times from the Badgers and has completed 8 of 14 passes for 109 yards.
Blake Haubeil finally managed to get some points on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter. With Ohio State’s offense stalling at the Wisconsin 32-yard line, Haubeil converted on a 49-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead.
So it looks like we have a good game on our hands heading to the second half. But will Wisconsin be able to score?
A week after smashing Michigan in a statement game, the Badgers looked like they were about to pick up where they left off this week against Northwestern. But after a touchdown on the opening drive, Northwestern has stayed in the game with their defense and trails Wisconsin 7-3 at halftime in Madison.
Jonathan Taylor capped the game’s opening drive with a 13-yard touchdown run, but the Badgers went three-straight possessions with a three-and-out. The Wildcats have only been able to pick up a field goal by Charlie Kuhbander (29 yards after a 10-play drive covered 83 yards).
A low-scoring game may be the kind of game Northwestern was hoping for, because they certainly feel like they can hang with the Badgers right now. But how long they can tie down Taylor and the Badgers will be the big question in the second half. Wisconsin has been strong in the second half of games this season.
In a Big Ten opener between two top 15 teams, there was no doubt which program is in a better position to compete for a Big Ten title this season. No. 13 Wisconsin (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) continued their dominant ways against No. 11 Michigan (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) with a 35-14 victory in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. The shutout streak to start the season by Wisconsin’s defense came to an end late in the third quarter, but the damage had already been done by star running back Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns despite missing the entire second quarter.
Taylor rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter before leaving for the remainder of the half with members of the team’s medical staff. Fortunately, by the time Taylor returned at the start of the second half, Wisconsin had a 28-0 lead and merely had to salt away the final 30 minutes of the game. Having Taylor returned helped that cause. As good of a game he had, there was much more to Wisconsin’s dominating performance. Jack Coan added a pair of rushing touchdowns and was efficient with his passing. The Badgers defense prevented the Wolverines from converting a third-down play (0-for-10). To add to that, Wisconsin’s offense was 3-for-3 on fourth down, including a big one to keep the game’s opening possession alive despite being in their side of the 50-yard line to start the game.
In need of an offensive spark, Michigan changed quarterbacks to begin the second half. After Shea Patterson went 5-of-14 for 87 yards in the first half (68 of which came on the first offensive play of the game for the Wolverines), Dylan McCaffrey took the reigns of the offense to start the second half. That spark never came. McCaffrey would not make it to the end of the third quarter after being removed from the game after taking a blow to the head at the end of a play. Patterson returned to the game to finish Michigan’s best drive of the day with a touchdown pass in the third quarter and he added another one later in the fourth quarter with the game all but officially decided.
For all the talk about Michigan’s offense being different this season, the first three games of the year show the Wolverines simply are nowhere close to being ready to live up to any of the hype.
Perhaps the only negative thing to come out of the game for Wisconsin was a pair of players being ejected form the defense. Safety Eric Burrell was ejected from the game in the second half for a targeting call. Just a few plays later in the third quarter, Reggie Pearson was ejected for an even nastier hit on McCaffrey. Both players will be required to miss the first half of the Northwestern game next week.
Michigan will lick their wounds and try to regroup next week at home against Rutgers.
Another week, another lopsided result in favor of the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0). Wisconsin notched a second straight win to open the 2019 season with a blowout victory in their home opener with a 61-0 victory over Central Michigan. Jonathan Taylor scored four total touchdowns and quarterback Jack Coan passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The defense also recorded a second consecutive shutout.
Taylor continues to march toward the 5,000-yard career mark. With 4,306 career rushing yards to his name entering Week 2, Taylor added 102 more yards (and three rushing touchdowns with a touchdown reception for good measure) to move closer to becoming the fourth player to record 5,000 career rushing yards through their junior season. He would join Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Oregon’s LaMichael James and, naturally, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. He now needs 592 more yards.
But Wisconsin is always going to be solid running the football. The more pleasant development early on may be the play of Coan. A week after a solid outing against USF, Coan was incredibly efficient and reliable throwing the football against the Chippewas. The only question is just how much as Coan been challenged by opposing pass defenses? USF was an above average pass defensive team in 2018 with 11 interceptions, and Central Michigan allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game last season. The flip side of that argument, however, is the Chippewas had the seventh fewest opposing pass attempts thrown against them last season. The season is still young, and the level of defensive stature is going to increase for Wisconsin. This has been an incredibly encouraging start for the Badgers, but we are still dealing with a small sample size.
Although Wisconsin has not been presented with a stiff challenge to start the season, they now prepare for one of the more challenging obstacles they will face this season. After getting a bye week next week, Wisconsin will host No. 7 Michigan, who handed Wisconsin a loss last season in Ann Arbor. Michigan will also have a bye week to prepare for their first road trip of the season, and they may need the bye week more than the Badgers. Michigan struggled at home but celebrated a double overtime victory against Army earlier on Saturday. The new-look offense is still a work in progress for the Wolverines, and it seems the Wisconsin defense could be in for a good matchup at home.
This is the second time since 2013 Wisconsin has opened the year with back-to-back shutouts. The Badgers blanked UMass and Tennessee Tech in the first two games of the 2015 season with 45-0 and 48-0 victories, respectively. The last time Wisconsin recorded two shutouts in the same season was 2015 with wins against Hawaii and Miami Ohio.
Central Michigan will hope to bounce back next week when they host Akron in MAC play.