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What They’re Saying Following Ohio State’s Win Over Wisconsin

Local and national pundits react to the Buckeyes’ 52-21 victory over the Badgers on Saturday.
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Ohio State improved to 4-0 on the season following a 52-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener on Saturday evening.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback C.J. Stroud completed 17-of-27 passes for 281 yards and five touchdowns, including two apiece to sophomore wide receiver Emeka Egbuka and redshirt junior tight end Cade Stover.

Defensively, the Buckeyes were led by redshirt junior linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, who recorded a game-high 14 tackles and two tackles for loss. Fifth-year senior safety Tanner McCalister also added an interception to help them open a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

With that said, local and national college football analysts shared some of their thoughts on the game, and BuckeyesNow has compiled some of the best reactions below:

Tom VanHaaren, ESPN

“Ohio State had no problems with Wisconsin, winning by a large margin and dominating most of the game. The Buckeyes remain undefeated and have the offense playing at an elite level. Stroud is still among the Heisman favorites and continues to put up big numbers.

“Ohio State now has Rutgers, Michigan State and Iowa next on the schedule. If either of those three teams are going to try to compete with the Buckeyes, they'll have to figure out how to stop this offense.

David M. Hale, ESPN

"While a number of the country's top teams stumbled through the Saturday action, Ohio State looked every bit the part of a potential national champion, annihilating Wisconsin 52-21.

"Stroud threw five touchdown passes. The Buckeyes had two 100-yard backs. The defense held Wisconsin to just 296 yards and 11 first downs. The 52 points was the most scored against a Wisconsin defense since 2014, when the eventual national champion Buckeyes beat the Badgers 59-0 in the Big Ten title game.

"And all of Saturday's dominance came in a game in which Jaxon Smith-Njigba shut things down early, and the Buckeyes played without a couple of starting defensive backs.

"If the sluggish start against Notre Dame in Week 1 offered any opening for doubt, Ohio State has clearly delivered an emphatic rebuke. The remaining schedule appears to offer few serious challenges – a road trip to Penn State on Oct. 29 and the season finale against Michigan excepted – and Stroud's Heisman push is in full stride.

"The biggest threat for Ohio State for the next month might simply be boredom. Or Iowa. They're kind of the same thing."

Barrett Sallee, CBS Sports

“Remember before the season when the biggest question facing the Buckeyes was their defense and, specifically, whether new coordinator Jim Knowles could 'fix the glitch?' If the first three games weren't enough to solidify his impact, tonight's performance should etch it in stone.

“Mertz's head was spinning from the moment he took the field. He was picked off by McCallister at his own 46-yard line on his first drive of the game, and never really settled in from there. The Buckeyes didn't get him on the ground much – they only sacked Mertz once – but he was constantly on the move due to a ferocious front seven for the majority of the night. 

“Simply put: Ohio State is a complete team now. The offense was a known commodity, but now that Knowles has fixed the defense, the sky is the limit. Or, should I say, Los Angeles – the site of this season's College Football Playoff National Championship – is looking like the destination of what should be a fun ride the rest of the way in Columbus.”

Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

“The Buckeyes jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the first quarter even ended. For the most part, Ohio State did what he wanted against the Badgers, which is somewhat unusual. In fact, the 52 points is the most Wisconsin's given up in a non-overtime game in at least six years.”

Bill Bender, The Sporting News

“The defense is for real, even without starting cornerbacks Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown, who also were out with injuries. Wisconsin had 16 carries for 47 yards in the first half. McCalister knocked away a desperation Hail Mary before the end of the half. Braelon Allen finished with 165 yards, but most of that came on a 75-yard TD run with the game decided. 

“The Badgers don't have any of that, and it's questionable whether anybody in the Big Ten really does. No. 4 Michigan edged Maryland, 34-27, and No. 14 Penn State beat Central Michigan, 33-14, in Week 4. Those weren't nearly as loud as what the Buckeyes did to a Big Ten West team that frequents the Big Ten Championship Game.”

Max Chadwick, Pro Football Focus

"Entering the game, Wisconsin’s defense slotted in at 11th in PFF’s power rankings and figured to give Ohio State some issues. Instead, the Buckeyes put up 539 yards of total offense and averaged a staggering 0.319 expected points per play.

"Ohio State proved it can torch opponents both through the air and on the ground. Stroud targeted only four receivers for the game in Egbuka, Julian FlemingMarvin Harrison Jr. and Stover. The Badgers still had no answers, as Stroud threw five touchdowns, looking like the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. Running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams each tallied 100-plus yards on the ground.

"And that all came without Smith-Njigba, who’s nursing a hamstring injury. He was PFF’s top wide receiver in the country entering the season. The Buckeyes' offense looks like the best in the country, even without their best weapon. Once Smith-Njigba returns, this offense will enter a different stratosphere."

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Phil Harrison, BuckeyesWire

“Through last year and early on in this season, running back Henderson got a lot of love and was elevated to a fringe Heisman candidate. He was thought to be the clear No. 1 option in the backfield for the Buckeyes.

“Four games in though and it is abundantly clear that Willams is an equal opportunity runner in the backfield. He may not be quite as explosive as Henderson, but the kid is averaging almost nine yards a carry and went over 100 yards again today. It’s quite the 1-2 punch, or should we say 1A and 1B punch?”

Asher Low, BadgersWire

“Let’s start with the brutally honest truth: the talent gap between this Buckeyes team and this Badgers team feels insurmountable even if everything goes right. Recruiting rankings, the wide receivers room, the quarterback position, the list is as long as you want to make it. The talent gap feels as wide as it has been over the last decade, but has never really been narrow.”

Mitch Stacy, Associated Press

“Stroud completed his first eight passes on the way to another outstanding performance. The Heisman favorite again was exceptional taking advantage of what the defense gave him, and the combination of Williams and Henderson carrying the ball kept Wisconsin off balance.”

Matty Breisch, ClutchPoints

"With Smith-Njigba out, Egbuka was once again counted on to be Ohio State’s top receiving target, and goodness gracious, he did not disappoint.

"No matter how Wisconsin tried to slow Egbuka down, it really didn’t seem to work, as the junior wideout from Steilacoom, Wash., caught six balls for a season-high 118 yards and two touchdowns while serving as Stroud’s favorite target. 

"Egbuka has now caught 26 balls for 442 yards and five touchdowns and has officially set a new season-high in touchdowns scored in a game at two. When Smith-Njigba returns, Ohio State’s offense is going to be even more of a problem."


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