Quick Recap: Ohio State wasted little time jumping on the Badgers, dominating just about every statistical category on the way to by far the biggest win vs. a ranked team in Ohio State history and one of the biggest ever over any ranked squad. Cardale Jones hit Devin Smith for a 39-yard TD to cap a six-play, 77-yard drive just 1:59 in and the Buckeyes were off to the races from there. Two drives later, Ezekiel Elliott burst through the line and found no safeties in the picture as he raced 81 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0. Sean Nuernberger followed with a field goal before a perfectly lofted 44-yard TD from Jones to Smith. Elliott scored a touchdown on the next OSU drive then Joey Bosa capped the sterling half with a 4-yard fumble return TD when Michael Bennett stripped Melvin Gordon. Jones hit a third TD pass to Smith in the third quarter and Curtis Samuel added a pair of fourth-quarter TD runs. Ohio State held a 558-258 edge in yards and Elliott dominated his personal showdown with Gordon, posting 220 yards – including 60 more when he lost his shoe on a run in the fourth quarter – to the Heisman finalist’s 76. Ohio State averaged 10.0 yards per play behind Jones, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and the three TDs to Smith with no interceptions. Smith had four grabs for 137 yards, while defensive standouts included Bennett (five tackles, four TFL, two forced fumbles), Vonn Bell (seven tackles, INT), Darron Lee (seven tackles, a forced fumble), Eli Apple (five tackles, two TFL), and Doran Grant (two interceptions).
Urban Said: “Well, it's an honor to represent the Big Ten as the champion of the conference. Very proud of our team. Also great respect for Coach Andersen and Wisconsin. I've been asked a lot, `Did I see this happening?' I saw a team that prepared very well and is playing at a very high level right now. A lot of things happened this past week. There's a family grieving that was a big part of our family. Kosta (Karageorge), we had a prayer and a moment of silence for him in our locker room for him and his family. We'll never forget our teammate. Also some injuries, from Braxton Miller to Dontre Wilson to J.T. (Barrett). They were here supporting their teammates. Nine assistant coaches who did a wonderful job. But most importantly, I’m very grateful for this team I get to coach. These are great guys that come together. In a tough week, a close team got even closer.
“Our strength coach made a point to me, and I made it to the team on many occasions, that Cardale came in when we came in. He's been in every meeting with our quarterback coach. Tom Herman is an excellent coach. His unit the first year was very average. I talk about we got a Player of the Year in the Big Ten, but as a unit they weren't very strong. Kenny Guiton got better and better. Now it's one of the strongest units on the team. He's done a marvelous job. But Cardale is a veteran player that was immature when he first got on campus and has really matured. Obviously Tom gets a lot of credit for that.”
Play of the Game: The long bomb to Smith set the tone from the very beginning. Jones showed his confidence in the passing game from the first play, an 8-yard completion to Mike Thomas, then hit Corey Smith for 9 yards on the fifth play. On the next snap, Jones faked a run to his right, dropped back and lofted a pass to Devin Smith in the end zone, who skied over Sojoun Shelton in the corner for the 39-yard grab that ignited OSU’s blowout.
Player of the Game: Jones was making his first career start but the third-year sophomore showed he was ready for prime time, looking in command from the very beginning. A player who hadn’t thrown many passes in his career before the Illinois game, Jones didn’t run much, rushing just eight times for 9 yards with a long of 20. But in the passing game, he was nearly perfect, not just hitting Devin Smith deep but distributing like Barrett, hitting five receivers with his 12 passes and completing a variety of routes.
What Was Accomplished: Ohio State is now taking part in the first-ever College Football Playoff thanks to one of the most thorough whippings in college football history. Urban Meyer has the Buckeyes poised as one of the elite programs in the sport, and some bigger gifts might be on the way for Buckeye fans. Merry Christmas to everyone, and enjoy the next week!