4 Total Updates since October 14, 2010
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
On first take, I was ready to give every unit an F and be done with it. But after further examination, the Buckeye offense actually had the best day of all the units, and their response in the second half was the only thing keeping the team in the game. The offense ran 69 plays for 4.5 yards per play, totaling 311 yards. After a rough first half that found them down 21-3, the offense scored two consecutive touchdowns to start the second half, even converting a two point try to get the game within a field goal. After Wisconsin responded on their next drive with a touchdown, the Buckeyes were now done two scores with around six minutes left in the game. They were forced to enter hurry-up passing mode, and they failed to score.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a below average day, but it was not as poor as I had originally believed. He only passed for 156 yards and a 50% completion percentage, but added 56 yards on the ground. He is certainly not worthy of special recognition for his play, but, unfortunately, he was far from the most pressing of Ohio State's issues.
I never imagined I'd be giving the defense a grade lower than a B in any game this season, but the performance against Wisconsin was beyond disappointing. Giving up 336 yards is not a negative in itself, but when you realize that the Badgers only ran 59 plays, and thus the Buckeyes gave up 5.7 yards per play, it's enough to force a man to drink. Heavily.
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was excellent, but it was the Badger rushing attack that set up a number of easy throws for him. The Buckeye defensive line's poor play allowed Wisconsin to rush for 4.3 yards per rush, with John Clay totaling 104 yards, breaking Ohio State's streak of 29 straight games without an opposing rusher reaching the century mark. Ohio State's slow defensive death also had the effect of limiting the opportunities for the offense; in fact, the Buckeye offense only had the ball four times in the entire first half.
Special Teams: F
Ohio State's special teams had been criticized the entire season for poor coverage on punts and kickoffs, but the issues had seemingly been fixed over the last two games. It only took twelve seconds on Saturday for that to be proven false. Wisconsin receiver David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and it was an indication of things to come for the Badgers. This is the clearest and easiest category to grade, as it put Ohio State behind immediately, and affected the rest of the game after that. An already hyped Wisconsin crowd turned into a frenzy, and the Badgers were able to leverage the fast start into a lead for the rest of the game.
Freshman Drew Basil handled kickoff duties, and he struggled mightily the entire night. His short, line-drive kicks aided Wisconsin's returns and hurt the coverage unit's ability to get downfield. Of course, the coverage units inability to control their lanes is as much of an issue as the kick itself. Gilreath ran practically untouched on his touchdown return, and had multiple other returns for an unacceptable number of yards.
Ohio State's kick return units were simply average, and Wisconsin's punt unit did an excellent job, preventing the Bucks from returning a single punt. Senior placekicker Devin Barclay also missed a 45 yard field goal before halftime.
On a day where Ohio State was not at its best, the hideous special teams play assured the team a loss.
Player(s) of the Game: Dane Sanzenbacher and Dan "Boom" Herron
These two left their heart and soul out on the field on Saturday, and they were the only two worthy of special recognition.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
David Gilreath returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and John Clay went over the century mark in rushing and had two scores, as 18th-ranked Wisconsin sent No. 1 Ohio State to a 31-18 defeat before a rowdy crowd at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) built a three-touchdown lead before watching the Buckeyes get within three points early in the fourth quarter. James White stemmed the tide with a 12-yard scoring run and Wisconsin held on to send the No. 1 team to a loss for the second straight week. Last Saturday, South Carolina pulled off its first ever win over a top-ranked team with a 35-21 triumph over Alabama.
Now begs the question, which team will be No. 1 come Sunday? Oregon should move into that role, although the Ducks were idle this weekend. Boise State, the No. 3 team, was dominating San Jose State Saturday night.
It’s the first time Wisconsin has knocked off the top-ranked team in the country since September 12, 1981, when the Badgers topped Michigan in Madison. Wisconsin had lost its last four games against top-ranked clubs and is just 4-16 all-time in such contests. One of those was a win over the Buckeyes in 1942.
Dan Herron rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Ohio State (6-1, 2-1), which was riding a 12-game winning streak going back to last season. This was the Buckeyes’ fifth Big Ten loss in their last 44 such games.
Blake Sorensen thwarted an Ohio State drive late in the fourth by intercepting Pryor. Right after the clock wound down, fans rushed the field to celebrate with the Badgers.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
An examination of how Wisconsin defended Terrelle Pryor last season, along with a projection how the battle between Ohio State's offense and Wisconsin's defense will go on Saturday.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
1. Terrelle Pryor's Health. Pryor's quad was still sore last weekend against Indiana, but the junior signal-caller has said that it is "a lot better" this week. Pryor was excellent passing the ball against the Hoosiers, going 24/30 (80%) for a career high 334 yards, but he only ran the ball three times. The Badger defense is far more talented than Indiana, and it's a good bet that Pryor's legs will need to come into play at some point in the game. It's clear that the quad strain is not affecting his passing ability, but it is still unclear how, or if, it will affect his mobility.
2. General Health. Besides Pryor, Ohio State is dealing with multiple issues along the offensive line, including an attack from the flu bug upon starting left tackle Mike Adams. Adams missed at least one practice this week while recuperating from the effects of the virus, and his situation is one to monitor early in the game.
On the other side of the line, starting right tackle J.B. Shugarts has missed multiple days of practice this week with a recurring foot injury. It's the same issue that forced him out of the game against Indiana last weekend, which put true freshman Andrew Norwell under the gun as the replacement right tackle. If Shugarts can't play on Saturday, Ohio State will be starting a flu-ridden left tackle and true freshman rights tackle in Camp Randall.
It's not all bad news, though. Tight end Jake Stoneburner is set to return after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
3. Andrew Sweat. The first year starter at strongside linebacker has only played parts of the first two Big Ten games because of substitutions. Both Illinois and Indiana used multiple receiver sets, and Sweat is swapped out on those downs for the player at the "Star" position (Tyler Moeller before his injury; Christian Bryant now.)Wisconsin's favored style of multiple tight ends and backs will require Andrew Sweat to play the majority of snaps this weekend. Sweat has had a nondescript year so far, neither obviously struggling nor obviously making an impact. This will be Sweat's greatest test yet, and he will play a starring role in this game. As the strongside linebacker, he will have the tough task of covering Wisconsin's tight ends while providing a physical presence in run support.
4. Camp Randall at Night. Wisconsin is 25-3 in night games at Camp Randall since the 1995-96 season. One of those losses, however, came at the hands of Terrelle Pryor in 2008. The then true freshman led a game-winning drive in the last seconds of the contest, scoring on a speed option keeper. Pryor must maintain that composure tomorrow when the belligerent Wisconsin fans make their presence known.
5. Special Teams. Makin their return to this list once again, special teams will play a pivotal role in this game, although maybe not from the perspective you first thought. Ohio State actually holds the special teams edge in this game, with Wisconsin having the 90th ranked kickoff coverage units in the country and the 114th ranked punt coverage units. Look for Jordan Hall or Jaamal Berry to break a long return in this game.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
For the first time since 1997, the top-ranked team in the country will invade Madison, as newly crowned number-one ranked Ohio State battles 18th-ranked Wisconsin in a Big Ten battle at Camp Randall Stadium.
It is just the ninth time ever that the Badgers have played host to the top team in the land and they have only three wins in the previous eight encounters to show for it. However, this is a team in 2010 that has looked sharp in racing out to a 5-1 overall record. The lone loss came in the Big Ten opener two weeks ago at Michigan State (34-24), but Bret Bielema's squad evened its league record up with last weekend's 41-23 victory over Minnesota.
Jim Tressel's Buckeyes have supplanted defending national champion Alabama atop the polls, thanks to the Crimson Tide's loss at South Carolina. It marks the first time the team has been ranked number one since the final regular season poll of the 2007 campaign. Currently, OSU is riding a 12-game win streak and enters this matchup at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes made light work of Indiana last weekend, 38-10, earning Tressel his 100th victory at OSU.
The Buckeyes hold a 53-17-5 advantage in the all-time series with the Badgers, including a 25-10-2 mark in Madison.
Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor passed for a career-high 334 yards and three TDs in leading the Buckeyes past Indiana this past week. Most of that came in the first half of the game. The Ohio State offense is predicated on the rushing and passing exploits of Pryor, who has been stellar in both areas this season. He is second on the team in rushing (354 yards, three TDs) and has really elevated his play as a passer, completing 68 percent of his throws, for 1,359 yards, with 15 TDs and just three INTs.
Tailback Dan Herron has rushed for one more yard than Pryor, but is responsible for seven of the team's 15 rushing TDs to date.
The Hoosiers had put up some stellar stats coming into the contest with Ohio State, but as has been the case with most offensive teams, the OSU defense stepped up and completely shut them down. Indiana managed a mere 210 yards of total offense in the lopsided loss to the Buckeyes.
The numbers on the season have been similar, with OSU holding foes to just 237.0 yards of total offense. The OSU defense is once again stacked with All- American talent, highlighted by senior LB Ross Homan (team-high 37 tackles, one sacks, one INT, one fumble recovery). Fellow senior LB Brian Rolle is next in line (30 tackles). Defensive linemen Nathan Williams (24 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks), Cameron Heyward (16 tackles, 4.5 TFLs) and Dexter Larimore (16 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks) are getting the job done up front.
The key to Wisconsin's success this season is mistake-free football on the offensive side. The Badgers come into this game without turning the ball over in four-plus outings.
Another key strength on offense is Wisconsin's ability to enforce its will with a stellar ground game. The team is averaging 240.8 yards on the ground, getting it done on 5.6 yards per carry. A potent one-two punch in the form of John Clay (692 yards, 6.0 ypc, nine TDs) and James White (485 yards, 7.7 ypc, eight TDs) is a reason for concern by for defensive coordinator trying to slow Wisconsin down.
Wisconsin's ground attack is something that coach Tressel is concerned about.
"Their running backs, I think Number 20 has added another dimension to -- obviously John Clay is extraordinary, but you bring in that tempo change guy and all of a sudden, he hits you with a different type look and I think he's added a great look. I think in the last three games he's rushed for 300 and some odd yards and is a good player. He's their kickoff return guy as well. So they're all that everyone expects them to be."
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien has done everything asked of him under center. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his throws, for 1,207 yards, with seven TDs and just two INTs. Lanc Kendricks has clearly been the go-to- guy down the field, leading the team in receptions (25), receiving yards (391) and TD catches (three).
Wisconsin's defensive play has been good, with opponents averaging only 19.0 ppg, on just over 300 yards of total offense. One area of concern has to be the lack of big plays by this unit so far though. The Badgers have just six takeaways and only 12 sacks in the first six games.
Senior LB Culme St. Jean leads the unit with 33 tackles. DE J.J. Watt (30 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 2.0 sacks), LB Mike Taylor (26 tackles, 6.0 TFLs) and DE Louis Nzegwu (23 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 2.0 sacks) have down the most damage upfield.
Bielema knows that preparation is the key when taking on a team like Ohio State.
"Now to go against the competition or to go against an opponent at the level Ohio States been able to uphold for so long is going to be a nice measuring stick. And I think our guys will have that in the back of their minds and move forward, and hopefully, everybody will be in a position to be at their best on Saturday. We just have to go out and do what we do on a daily basis to get to Saturday. We can't jump to Saturday today or we can't jump to Thursday today. We have to jump to where we are on Monday, progress to Tuesday, and move ourselves through the week."
This will be the Buckeyes' toughest challenge to date. The Badgers will do their best to slow things down and keep OSU's offense off the field. That of course is easier said than done. Look for OSU to pass its first big test, as it successfully defends its top-ranking, although it isn't going to come easy.