Whew! Ohio State escaped from Camp Randall Stadium with a 21-14 overtime win in one of the toughest, hardest-fought games you’re likely to see this year.
It wasn’t a pretty game offensively. The Buckeye offense was pitiful during the second half, when it had multiple chances to put the game away. The low point came when, with time running out in the fourth quarter, the offense could have salted the game away with one first down — but was unable to pick it up. Wisconsin’s defense was terrific, and never let Braxton Miller shake loose. The Badgers covered the Ohio State receivers like a wet blanket, and Miller often seemed baffled about what to do. Ohio State’s coaching staff had better figure that out, because Michigan will be studying how Wisconsin defended the Buckeyes and will try to follow that approach next week.
The Ohio State defense, though, was stellar. The Silver Bullets gave up yardage to Montee Ball — who doesn’t? — but penned him in and produced countless big plays. The biggest was the lick Ryan Shazier laid on Ball to force a fumble on a fourth and goal with time ticking down in the fourth quarter, followed by a stout stand that gave the Buckeyes the win in overtime. Defensive lineman John Simon was all over the field, playing his heart out. He graduates this year, but his studly, never-say-quit play has earned him a place in the pantheon of Buckeye gridiron greats.
This was the kind of rugged defensive battle that epitomizes Big Ten football. The Buckeyes prevailed, won the Big Ten Leaders division (who cares?), and moved to 11-0. Now it’s on to Michigan Week, when the Wolverines come to the Horseshoe. In football’s greatest rivalry game, Michigan will have the chance to ruin Ohio State’s perfect record, and Ohio State will have the opportunity to keep Michigan out of the Big Ten championship game. It doesn’t get much better than that.