Ohio State vs. Wisconsin score, takeaways: No. 3 Buckeyes throttle Badgers as explosive offense shines again

No. 3 Ohio State dominated cross-division Big Ten rival Wisconsin 52-21 on Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, in what was another statement in this 2022 season by coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes. They came out hot with touchdown drives on their first four possessions to stun the Badgers early like a heavyweight boxer throwing haymakers after the opening bell.  

Running back Myian Williams got the festivities started with a 2-yard touchdown run on the opening drive, and that was followed by two straight touchdown strikes from Heisman front-runner C.J. Stroud to rarely used tight end Cade Stover. Williams punched another one in early in the second quarter to put this one away without much fan fare. 

Stroud had a stellar night, throwing for 281 yards and five touchdowns. He did, however, toss his first pick of the season late in the second quarter while driving in the hopes of getting one more score going into the break.

It wasn't just the aerial attack that carries this rout, though. Williams finished with 101 yards and the two scores while backfield mate TreVeyon Henderson tallied 120 yards in what was one of the most balanced performances of the Day tenure at Ohio State.

The one bright spot for the Badgers in the crushing loss was sophomore running back Braelon Allen, who had 165 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. He didn't get much help from quarterback Graham Mertz, who finished the day with 94 yards, one touchdown pass, one touchdown run and one interception. 

Here are the top takeaways from Ohio State's domination of Wisconsin on Saturday. 

Stroud is as dangerous as they come

The star signal-caller for the Buckeyes not only showed off his skills but showed just how quickly he can turn a game sideways. He was 9 of 10 for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter with both of those scores coming to Stover. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was out for the third straight week, but it didn't matter. Stroud has developed chemistry with so many weapons in his absence, and that will make defensive coordinators' heads spin throughout the year. 

Saturday was Stover's night. The senior had eight catches coming into the game but hauled in four more for 51 yards and the two scores. He now has 12 catches through four games despite only having five in the previous three seasons.

Moving forward, he's just another weapon for which to account. Smith-Njigba was out, Marvin Harrison Jr. wasn't much of a factor and Julian Fleming made most of his impact in the second half when the game was essentially over. Combine those weapons with Emeka Egbuka -- who had six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns -- and Stroud can look anywhere he wants to make this offense click. 

What's even scarier is that Stroud is just getting started. When Smith-Njigba comes back, Stroud won't be stopped.

Defense isn't an issue anymore

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 Tanner 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.

Wisconsin's identity holds them back

The Badgers got put in a spin cycle on the first four drives of the game and simply aren't built to recover. The 31 first-quarter points the Badgers gave up were the most since the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game loss to the same Buckeyes. Paul Chryst is a great coach and has done a great job keeping Wisconsin somewhat relevant on the national stage, but this program won't ascend beyond where it is right now without a concerted change in its identity. National championship-caliber teams are built to win in a variety of ways, and when it fell into an early hole, there was no shot of coming back. 

They simply don't have the depth and talent on the roster to make this work. In the age of name, image and likeness, Chryst can fix it. He has the foundation of a rabid fanbase and an athletic department that is willing to invest in the program to change the identity in a hurry. He just has to be willing to do so.

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More Buckeyes offense

9:53 Q3: No. 3 Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 7

The Buckeye offensive barrage continued in the third quarter when CJ Stroud found Julian Fleming for a 12-yard touchdown to cap off an 8-play, 72-yard drive. Stroud threw for 61 yards on the drive, and looked every bit like a Heisman Trophy front-runner. This game has now officially gotten out of hand.

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Stroud makes a mistake

Ohio State was hoping to get downfield and get, at the very least, another field goal before the break. But quarterback CJ Stroud threw his first pick of the season with 38 seconds left. John Torchio picked him off on the Buckeye 48-yard line on a tremendous play in which he got one foot down on an overthrow while going full speed out of bounds. 

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Ohio State actually does a field goal unit

2:30 Q2: No. 3 Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 7

Ohio State scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, but had a change of pace on its fifth. The Buckeyes slowed the tempo and marched 69 yards on 13 plays to get on the doorstep. CJ Stroud missed Cade Stover in the end zone, and they couldn't punch it on the ground. Noah Ruggles kicked a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead. How good is Ohio State? It was only Ruggles' third attempt of the season.

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