Ohio State scores against Wisconsin, takeaway: No. 3 Buckeyes smother Badgers as explosive offense shines again

Do not. 3 Ohio State defeated cross-division Big Ten rival Wisconsin 52-21 Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, in another statement from coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes for the 2022 season. They were fiery with touchdowns in their first four games, stunning the Badgers early, like a heavyweight throwing a haystack after the opening bell.

Running back Myian Williams started the celebration with a 2-yard touchdown, followed by Heisman frontrunner CJ Stroud with two consecutive touchdowns, rarely using tight end Cade Stover. Williams threw another punch early in the second quarter, putting it away without too many fans.

Stroud had a great night, throwing for 281 yards and five touchdowns. However, he did throw in his first pick of the season late in the second quarter while driving hope for one more point at halftime.

However, it wasn’t just the air strikes that caused the rout. Williams finished with 101 yards and two points, while backcourt teammate TreVeyon Henderson finished with 120 in one of Ohio State’s most balanced performances of the day.

A bright spot for the Badgers in the fiasco was second-year running back Breron Allen, who had 165 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. He didn’t get much help from quarterback Graham Mertz, who finished the day with 94 yards, a touchdown pass, a touchdown run and an interception.

Here are the key takeaways from Ohio State’s dominance in Wisconsin on Saturday.

Stroud is as dangerous as they are

The Buckeyes’ star signalman showed not only his skills, but how quickly he can turn the game around. He went 9-for-10 for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, both of which came from Stover. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is out for the third straight week, but that doesn’t matter. In his absence, Stroud has developed chemistry with so many weapons that it will keep defensive coordinators dizzy all year.

Saturday is Stover night. The senior had eight catches in the game but hauled four more for 51 yards and two runs. He now has 12 catches in four games despite having only five in his first three seasons.

Going forward, he’s just another weapon to consider. Smith-Njigba was out, Marvin Harrison Jr. wasn’t a huge factor, and Julian Fleming had most of the impact when the second half was largely over. Combine those weapons with Emeka Egbuka — who has six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns — and Stroud can look anywhere he wants to offense.

Worse still, Stroud was just getting started. Stroud won’t be blocked when Smith-Njigba returns.

Defense is no longer an issue

Remember the biggest issue the Buckeyes faced before the season was their defense, especially whether new coordinator Jim Knowles could “fix the glitch”? If the first three games weren’t enough to cement his impact, tonight’s performance should be unforgettable.

From the moment he got on the court, Mertz was dizzy. He was caught at his 46-yard line by Tanner McCallister on the first drive of the game and never really settled from there. The Buckeyes didn’t get him on the floor too much — they fired Mertz only once — but he kept moving thanks to a ferocious front-seven for much of the night.

Simply put: Ohio State is a complete team now. Offense is a proverbial commodity, but now that Knowles has established defense, the sky is the limit. Or, should I say, Los Angeles — home to this season’s College Football Playoff National Championships — looks like the destination for the rest of Columbus’s interesting journey.

Wisconsin identities hold them back

The Badgers went into a spin loop for the first four drives of the game and weren’t built for recovery at all. The 31 points the Badgers gave up in the first quarter was the most since a Big Ten championship game loss to the same Buckeyes in 2014. Paul Chryst is a great coach and has done a great job of keeping Wisconsin relevant on the national stage, but without a consistent change in its identity, the program won’t move beyond where it is now. National championship-level teams are built to win in multiple ways, and when it falls into the hole early, there’s no turning back.

They simply don’t have the depth and talent on the roster to do the job. In the age of names, images and likenesses, Chryst can fix it. He has a rabid fan base and the foundation of a sports department willing to invest in the program to quickly change its identity. He just needs to be willing to do it.

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