After a clunker at Michigan, redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook looked more like the quarterback we saw against Akron, Georgia State and Michigan State.
Dancing around against Michigan, Hornibrook looked much more poised against Ohio State. On his first snap he rolled out of the pocket and hit Troy Fumagalli for 28 yards. Later he stepped up in the picket and hit Fumagalli between two defenders for a 30-yard gain. On UW’s impressive 11-play, 81-yard drive, Hornibrook hit Jazz Peavy for 36 yards on third-and-9. UW was just 6 of 15 on third down but that was a huge play.
People will critique him for the last play of the game, but I can’t fault the kid when his offensive line gave him zero protection. I do fault him for his interception, which was poorly thrown and a critical mistake that set up Ohio State for its first touchdown. In three Big Ten games, Hornibrook has thrown five interceptions. That has to change if Wisconsin wants to win the West.
“This one hurts,” Hornibrook said. “To come that close our team played great, we just couldn’t finish in the end.”
Where the heck has this been from Corey Clement? Benefited from rest on the bye week, Clement tore up one of the top rushing defenses in the country by tying his career-high with 164 yards. His 68-yard run was well executed, bouncing a run to the outside and avoid some tackle attempts, even if his breakaway speed wasn’t there.
Clement also ran hard between the tackles and finished with 6.6 yard average on his 26 carries.
“I just allowed myself to be patient,” Clement said, who was at 100 yards on eight carries. “Just working with those guys, it’s been there all season, I had to do my part and just allow myself to be patient, allow the holes to open up. (Saturday) was one of the best days I’ve felt and I just allowed the game to come to me and it showed.”
It wasn’t enough, however, as the Badgers fell to 9-1 when Clement runs for over 100 yards.
Dare Ogunbowale and Bradrick Shaw were hardly used and ineffective. Kudos to fullback Austin Ramesh, who put his head down and “rammed” into the end zone to cap that 11-play drive that put UW up 23-20 in the fourth quarter. It was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Buckeyes this season.
The last team to run for at least 236 yards against Ohio State was Maryland last November.
Peavy’s day was nothing short of terrific. He caught four of the six passes thrown his way for 76 yards but his work on the jet sweeps added another dimension to the offense. Peavy ran the ball six times for 70 yards and moved the chains on the first five carries.
We continue to be waiting for Rob Wheelwright to break out. He was only targeted four times, caught two passes for 36 yards and had a drop. He did make a big catch in overtime to set up UW on a first-and-goal on the 4.
Fumagalli was solid in pass catching but was flagged for a holding penalty that negated a Clement touchdown. UW had to settle for a field goal, points that proved costly.
Eric Steffes dropped a pass on the first series of the second half, setting up a third-and-7. The third quarter was a disaster for Wisconsin and allowed Ohio State to get back in the game. Steffes made up for it later with a downfield block to spring Clement for a 20-yard run
On Clement’s 68-yard run, true freshman Quintez Cephus missed his initial block but got out front when his assignment missed a tackle. He levied a key block to give his tailback more yards. Lesson on why to never quit on a play.
Re-watching the game, it’s hard to figure out a grade for this group. Wisconsin ran the ball and pass the ball over 200 yards for the second time this season, only this time they did it against a defense giving up only 10.8 points per game. However the protection was spotty at best and caused Hornibrook to be sacked four times and be under duress many others.
UW went with the same starting five as the previous two weeks but switched things up on the ninth play of the game with Micah Kapoi coming in at left guard, Michael Deiter moving to center and David Edwards coming in at right tackle. Edwards was promptly greeted by giving up a sack against Nick Bosa on third-and-6 on OSU’21. UW had to settle for a field goal. Rudolph rotated lines throughout but Edwards didn’t return.
Beau Benzschawel delivered a really nice block as the only blocker out in front of a screen pass to spring Clement for 18 yards, but the sophomore missed a handful of blocks and gave up more than his fair share of pressures. Wisconsin moved the ball efficiently down the field on the first drive, facing a manageable third-and-6 from the OSU 20, Benzschawel couldn’t hold his block on Nick Bosa and Hornibrook was sacked. UW settled for a field goal.
On the final play of the game, Benzschawel and Jacob Maxwell were pushed five yards into the backfield, causing the timing of the routes to be fatally altered.
Is anybody on the defensive line playing better than Alec James? James snuffed out a quarterback draw on third-and-11, shucking the left guard and tackling OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett after only a two-yard gain, pinning the Buckeyes deep on fourth down. James finished with a career-high eight tackles.
Wisconsin held down Ohio State’s tailbacks, including the conference’s leading Mike Weber (11 carries, 46 yards).
Conor Sheehy delivered one of UW’s two sacks on the first series of the game when he ran a stunt with outside linebacker T.J. Watt, faking outside and cutting inside the left guard to get his first full sack of the season.
The line helped hold Ohio State to six points and 91 rush yards in a phenomenal first half but the pass rush disappeared as the game wore on, allowing Barrett to improvise to make back-breaking plays.
Jack Cichy was tremendous and often unblockable. He recorded game-high totals in solo tackles (11) and total tackles (15) but was kicking himself after having Barrett dead to rights on third-and-6, missing him after Barrett took a step up in the pocket (causing Cichy to overrun him) and giving up an 8-yard touchdown.
“We have a lot to improve on,” Cichy said. ‘We had a lot of missed opportunities, a lot of details that we kind of let slip away.”
Same with T.J. Watt, who put a lot of blame on himself for not taking down Barrett on a third-and-10 when he had his at the knees, allowing him to complete a 9-yard pass to set up a fourth-and-1. OSU converted it and later scored to cut the lead to 16-13 late in the third quarter. Watt also looked to have a chance at stopping Barrett on the play above if he kept his feet.
Junior OLB Garrett Dooley had four solo tackles and a quarterback hurry but missed a TFL on the first play of overtime that resulted in a 10-yard gain, and sophomore ILB T.J. Edwards recorded nine tackles, including five solo stops, but missed a tackle on the second play of overtime that cost UW four yards.
Against good teams, UW can’t miss on those plays.
Redshirt freshman OLB Zack Baun garnered a career-best six tackles, including one tackle for loss, before leaving the game in the second half.
Safety D’Cota Dixon had two big plays to keep Ohio State plays off the board – a 1-on-1 tackle on the speedy Curtis Samuel to set up a third-and-3. If he misses that it could have been a touchdown. Dixon also picked off Barrett in the end zone when the OSU quarterback sailed a pass. He also added a half tackle for loss.
Leo Musso delivered a couple solo tackles that were huge for the defense, including taking down Barrett in the open field on third down to force a field goal attempt.
Wisconsin corners held up for the most part against some talented receivers, although Sojourn Shelton had bad execution on a pass interference play in the end zone and Derrick Tindal missed a tackle on the third play of overtime (costing UW 13 yards) and got beat by Noah Brown on the game winner on the next play.
Andrew Endicott showed he’s more than capable of filling in for Rafael Gaglianone for the rest of the season, hitting all his field-goal attempts of 46, 32 and 22 yards.
P.J. Rosowski was outstanding on kickoffs, recording four touchbacks on five kicks. He has 20 touchbacks on 32 kickoffs this season. His punting is a different story, averaging only 35.6 yards on five kicks. By comparison, Ohio State’s punter Cameron Johnston averaged 53.8 yards on his four kicks, including a long of 70. UW needs more from Rosowski and true freshman Anthony Lotti.
UW is getting nothing from its kickoff return unit and Clement didn’t look real comfortable on punt return, including fielding his only return on the six.
The jet sweep was Wisconsin’s best offensive weapon because of the amount of things it opened up within the offense. The Badgers ran a number of actions off of it and got some big yards. If we’re nitpicking, the play-calling at the end of the first half was doomed to fail and the final set of downs could have used more imagination.
Wisconsin’s defense lost its pressure in the second half and it hurt, but the group’s game plan made Ohio State look very beatable. UW just didn’t make enough plays to do it.