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All season long, and really since he arrived at Ohio State prior to the 2012 season, Urban Meyer has been looking for his team to perform nine units strong, to get a complete performance out of every position group on the team. In the biggest win of the Meyer era, he did.
The Buckeyes thoroughly dominated No. 13 Wisconsin, earning a 59-0 win in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday. It was the first time the Badgers had been shutout since 1997 and their worst defeat since 1979. The win was the fourth largest shutout ever against a ranked team and the largest ever for the Buckeyes. It is the only time a team has been shutout in a Power 5 conference championship game.
Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said it was by far the most complete performance he has ever been a part of.
“We played nine units strong and you can see what happens when we do that,” he said.
Those units – quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs and special teams – combined for by far Ohio State’s best game of the season, a game that propelled the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff.
At quarterback Cardale Jones completed 12 of his 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The running backs amassed 299 yards on nearly 10 yards per carry. Led by Devin Smith, the wide receivers the wide receivers played the unit’s best game under Meyer, while the tight ends and offensive line combined to keep Jones clean.
The defense and special teams matched the offense as Cameron Johnston averaged 53 yards a punt, the defensive line recorded three sacks and recovered a fumble for a touchdown, the defensive backs had three interceptions and the linebackers forced a fumble and combined for 25 tackles.
“Complete game for sure,” cornerback Eli Apple said. “In the past we let teams get up a little bit, get some points. This game we wanted to play complete for all four quarters and that’s what we did.”
Ohio State out-gained Wisconsin nearly two to one, 558-258, despite running only 56 plays to Wisconsin’s 80. The Buckeyes didn’t turn it over, while taking the ball away from the Badgers four times.
Meyer has been craving a complete performance since he arrived at Ohio State and in his biggest win as the Buckeyes coach, he got it.
Defensive tackle Mike Bennett said that when the team is nine units strong, the Buckeyes are hard to beat.
“When everybody steps up the way they did and respond to adverse situations this week,” he said. “This is a tough team and now it’s a fundamentally sound team and that’s hard to beat. It’s a team with passion and a vision.”