The University of Wisconsin football team (0-1, Big Ten) lost 21-52 to Ohio State (1-0) Sept. 24 in Columbus.
With that, the Badgers can cross Ohio State off of the schedule and move on. With the news of Jaxon Smith-Njigba out, along with a few of Ohio State’s cornerbacks, there was hope the Badgers could cover the 19-point spread.
After the muffed kickoff, fans felt even better about that idea. But, after Ohio State took their unfortunate field position and turned it into a six-play, 88-yard touchdown drive, which included 73 passing yards from CJ Stroud, the game was getting out of hand for Wisconsin.
After the first drive was over, it was time to give the offense a crack at it. For the amount of times the Badgers offense has gone three-and-out, I was not expecting anything different on their opening drive. Much to my delight, on three running plays, we managed 11 yards and all of a sudden, it was “first and 10 Wisconsin!”
And then, two snaps later, the inevitable happened — Graham Mertz got picked off.
At first glimpse, it seemed like Mertz just made a bad throw. But on second thought, the play might not have entirely been his fault. It’s debatable whether Chimere Dike ran the correct route, but the bottom line is that Mertz made a bad call — when Dike broke toward the sideline for the out route, Mertz’s throw was too far behind his receiver.
Had Dike run a curl, the pass would have been too far inside, probably getting picked off. Ultimately, Mertz made a bad pass and it all went downhill from there.
The Buckeyes then proceeded to score quickly after the turnover and the Badgers found themselves in a quick 14-0 hole. After giving up two more scores, the Badgers made their way onto the board with a touchdown of their own. A 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended in Mertz rushing for six points finally revealed some semblance of an opponent for Ohio State.
The lone bright spot for the Badger defense, which might not have made the flight to Columbus, was a John Torchio interception of CJ Stroud. This was Stroud’s first interception of the season. The defense gave the offense a shot to make it a 31-14 game going into the half, but a dropped pass from Skyler Bell steps from the end zone sent the Badgers into the locker room down 31-7.
In the second half, the Badgers did not look much better. They punted on their first three drives and then cashed in for seven after a very Wisconsin-esque 14-play, 80 yard drive, which ate up over a quarter of the time in the second half.
Braelon Allen broke a run for a 75-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and that ended the scoring for the night. The Badgers fell to the Buckeyes 52-21 and the stat lines, except for Allen’s 23 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown, were pretty bleak. Mertz didn’t break triple digits for passing yards, though he did account for two touchdowns — one through the air and one on the ground.
With this one in the rearview mirror, the Badgers need to go back to the drawing board. Offensive coordinator Bobby Engram said earlier in the season that he was saving his best stuff for Ohio State — if this was his best stuff, then we are in for a long, painful season.
Wisconsin will play Illinois at home Oct. 1. It is going to be a sneaky-tough game and with the 11 a.m. start, everyone better be up early and have Camp Randall rocking so that we can inject some life into this Badger team.