COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Third-ranked Ohio State opened its Big Ten play with a statement win over Wisconsin, 52-21.
Before Saturday’s game, Ohio State (4-0) won eight straight over the Badgers and 11 of the last 12 contests. The last time Wisconsin (2-2) defeated the Buckeyes was a 33-29 victory in Columbus in 2011.
The Buckeyes entered the game first in the country in total offense (565.3 yards per game) while Wisconsin is 11th in total defense (246.0 per game). OSU’s passing attack has been on a tear, with 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 2022. It may have to work a bit harder than usual, though, as Wisconsin has allowed only one touchdown pass and picked off seven passes.
Ohio State gets big plays early, with CJ Stroud hitting passes of 18 yards to Marvin Harrison Jr, 22 yards to Cade Stover and 34 yards to Emeka Egbuka and TreVeyon Henderson on a 10-yard run. Miyan Williams caps the drive with a two-yard touchdown run right behind center Luke Wypler, Buckeyes lead 7-0.
Ohio State covered 88 yards in six plays and under three minutes.
Wisconsin gained a first down on its initial drive, but Graham Mertz threw behind his receiver and was intercepted by OSU safety Tanner McCalister, who returned the ball to the Badgers 16-yard line. After a three-yard run by Henderson on first down, Stroud rolled left then threw right to a wide-open Stover, who leapt a defender and found the end zone from 13 yards out. It took Ohio State just two plays to go up two touchdowns, and it could be danger time for Wisconsin, which does not have an offense designed to come back from big deficits.
The Buckeyes forced a three and out on the Badgers second drive and went to work again, getting a 13-yard pitch and catch to Egbuka and 11 yards to Harrison Jr. Stroud has started 6-of-6 for 110 yards and a touchdown. Then it became the Henderson drive, as the sophomore broke off consecutive runs of 16 and 10 yards before Stroud rolled right and looked like he was going to run before he found a wide-open Stover in the end zone for a two-yard scoring pass. Ohio State leads 21-0 with just under four minutes left in the first quarter and covered 70 yards in seven plays.
The Buckeyes forced another three and out and a shanked Badgers punt, taking over at their own 33. Stroud has his first incompletion after Julian Fleming couldn’t corral a pass near the sideline on first down.
Ohio State has 210 yards and is averaging 14.2 yards through the air against a Badgers defense that has been stingy against the pass.
Ohio State was faced with a third and three and Wisconsin was looking at a potential mini-win, but Miyan Williams bulled over two defenders to the four, then strolled in untouched on the next play to put the Buckeyes ahead 28-0. OSU went 67 yards in six plays and are using motion and different sets to confuse Wisconsin.
The Badgers gained their initial first down on a questionable pass interference against freshman Jyaire Brown, forced into service due to injuries to Cam Brown and Denzel Burke.
Wisconsin continued the drive, converting a nice third and nine when Mertz found Skyler Bell on the sideline for 26 yards to the OSU 14-yard line.
The Badgers ended the shutout when Mertz took it over from the one-yard-line, covering 72 yards in 10 plays in just over five minutes.
Ohio State flipped the script and went physical on its next drive, covering 68 yards in 13 plays and chewing up over six minutes on the clock. Williams picked up 53 yards and Henderson 14 on the drive, which culminated in a 25-yard field goal from Noah Ruggles.
Wisconsin got a final possession with 2:20 left before halftime looking to double up — it gets the ball to open the second half — but went three and out, giving Ohio State the ball at its own 10-yard line with just under 90 seconds left in the half.
OSU looked to run out the clock but after a couple of big runs by Henderson decided to take a shot downfield, where Stroud threw his first interception of the season after throwing behind Harrison Jr.
Wisconsin was unable to parlay the turnover into points — though made the Ohio Stadium faithful hold their breath on a deep pass to Bell that was knocked away at the last second by McCalister — and went into halftime down 31-7.
WISCONSIN PASSING: Mertz 6-12, 49 yards
OHIO STATE PASSING: Stroud 10-15, 147 yards, 2 TD, INT
WISCONSIN RUSHING: Allen 8 carries, 36 yards
OHIO STATE RUSHING: Williams 11 carries, 101 yards, 2 TD; Henderson 12 carries, 78 yards
WISCONSIN RECEIVING: Bell 2-35
OHIO STATE RECEIVING: Stover 4-51, 2 TDs; Egbuka 2-46; Harrison Jr 3-45
TOTAL YARDS: Wisconsin 96 yards, 49 passing, 47 rushing; Ohio State 328 yards, 147 passing, 181 rushing.
Wisconsin got the ball to open the half and actually picked up a first down on a nice run by Allen but it was negated by a holding penalty. OSU’s pass rush got to Mertz on the next play, forcing a Badgers punt which the Buckeyes fielded at their own 28-yard line.
Ohio State’s possession was workmanlike until Stround found Julian Fleming underneath the coverage, and Fleming spun away and picked up 31 yards to put the Buckeyes into the red zone. It took OSU three more plays to hit paydirt when Stroud stepped up in the pocket and found Fleming on an in-breaking route, and he bulled in for the 12-yard score with 8:35 remaining in the quarter. Ohio State covered 72 yards in eight plays.
The Buckeyes had their first three and out of the night with 6:18 left in the quarter as Wisconsin has shown some different looks and drops into coverage, making life a bit tougher for Stroud. OSU’s Jesse Mirco punted to the Wisconsin four, and it was backed up thanks to a holding penalty. Wisconsin has the ball first and 10 at its own two-yard-line.
OSU went aggressive with its defense and forced a three-and-out punt from the Badgers, and were set up in prime field position inside the Badgers’ 40-yard line.
TreVeyon Henderson joined Williams in the 100-yard rushing club with a four-yard run on first down, followed by a seven-yard leaping run to the sideline. It is the first time since 2019 that Ohio State has had two backs rush for over 100 yards.
Stroud zipped a heater into Egbuka on a slant for an 8-yard touchdown strike, putting the Buckeyes up 45-7 with 2:22 left in the quarter, Stroud’s fourth touchdown toss of the night. OSU traversed 38 yards in just four plays and lead 45-7.
Wisconsin kept fighting and added a touchdown with 9:46 to play when Mertz found Jackson Acker from the two-yard-line. Allen was the big weapon on the drive, carrying the ball 11 times and picking up three first downs. The Badgers covered 80 yards in 14 plays and ate up 7:36 of clock time.
Ohio State put the finishing touches on a five play, 75-yard scoring drive as Stroud hit Egbuka on a skinny post for 32 yards. Egbuka moved to 118 yards for the night, while Stroud notched his fifth touchdown with 7:21 to play.
Wisconsin didn’t take long to answer as Allen broke through the middle on a 75-yard touchdown run, giving him 165 yards on 23 carries.
Ohio State moved to 4-0 on the season, 1-0 in league play, while the Badgers fell to 2-2, 0-1 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will play the last of five home games next weekend against Rutgers.
WISCONSIN PASSING: Mertz 11-20, 94 yards, TD, INT
OHIO STATE PASSING: Stroud 17-27, 281, 5 TD, INT
WISCONSIN RUSHING: Allen 23-165, TD; Mertz 5-15, TD
OHIO STATE RUSHING: Henderson 21-121, Williams 11-101, 2 TD
WISCONSIN RECEIVING: Bell 4-55
OHIO STATE RECEIVING: Egbuka 6-118, 2 TD; Fleming 4-67, TD; Stover 4-51, 2 TD
TOTAL YARDS: Wisconsin 287 yards, 104 passing, 183 rushing; Ohio State 539 yards, 281 passing, 258 rushing