Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wisconsin Rest in Peace

The Wisconsin Badgers never knew what hit them.  Almost every sports analyst knew it would either be a squeak by win by OSU, or the Badgers would mop the floor with the topsy turvy Buckeyes.  After all, OSU was playing with a 3rd string quarterback in his first career start.  This after loosing not one, but two Heisman trophy candidate quarterbacks in the same season.

And on top of that, it dealt with the apparent suicide death of one of its own, some suggesting that concussions played a part (and interestingly not mentioning his wrestling career as possible blame - but that's for another day).  Given last year's disaster against Michigan State, and the equally embarrassing show in the bowl game, many wondered.

Cardale Jones, the 3rd man who started as quarterback this year, came onto the field with the lowest of expectations.  If he doesn't botch it, and the defense steps up, we might make a run of it.  Then, on the first possession, after only a couple plays, Jones stepped up in the well defended pocket and heaved a whopping 50 yard bomb into 'glue on his fingers' Devin Smith in the end zone.  One of the most impressive catches of the game.  Touchdown.  It all went down for Wisconsin from there. At 59-0, it was Wisconsin's worst defeat since 1979 (against OSU then), and one of the worst defeats in Big Ten championship history.

Boasting one of the best running backs to ever play college football, and a clear favorite for the Heisman, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon was completely shut down.  Whenever the young man had the ball, there were at least 4 OSU jerseys on the spot. The Wisconsin offensive line couldn't keep up, and Gordon was on his own, barely making 76 yards - a disaster for him.

In addition to several turnovers by Wisconsin, and a howitzer leg punter who twice put the ball back inside the Wisconsin 5 Yard Line, nothing went right for Wisconsin.  And more than anything, Ohio State made it look easy.  It was as if it was an exhibition game by a team of crack veterans, not a 3rd stringer in his first start with a team filled to the brim with freshmen.

Now the pundits will debate.  For me, I'd be happy with Ohio State not going to the playoffs.  Stretching ourselves past expectations has not always worked well with the Buckeyes in recent years. Wisconsin seemed to plan against the short pass and the run.  Logically, since being green, one could have expected Jones to be nervous and gun shy and stick to short passes and heavy running.  Other teams won't make the mistake.  They will exploit what weaknesses OSU had last night, and be prepared for a mature, capable team, not a team of green freshmen.  We'll see.

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