Ohio State stayed undefeated — just barely.
The Buckeyes needed overtime to claim a 30-23 win in Madison and improve to 6-0 Saturday night.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. Bye weeks are important…
Wisconsin entered the game having leaned heavily on a strong defense to rise to the top 10, but the Badgers’ nearly pulled the upset because of a vastly improved offense.
Head coach Paul Chryst and his staff drew up a variety of ways to attack the Buckeye defense, stretching the unit sideways and attacking it down the field when possible.
Receiver Jazz Peavy ran for 70 yards on end-arounds (a Wisconsin staple) while running back Corey Clement rumbled for 164, mostly the more traditional way. That made life easier for freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who threw for 214 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
2. …So is talent.
Almost nobody recruits better than Ohio State, and it was apparent a few times Saturday night.
Like pretty much whenever Curtis Samuel got the ball in space or when linebacker Jerome Baker closed distance on Clement to stop him for no gain on third down in overtime.
An OSU defensive line full of four- and five-star recruits also made a bevy of big plays, though that group got pushed around a bit, too.
3. Aggressive Urban = Winning Urban.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer twice called for the Buckeyes to go for it on fouth down during a crucial drive in the third quarter, and the Buckeyes rewarded him both times with conversions before finishing the drive with their first touchdown of the night.
That contrasted from the first half when he seemed to want to play it close to the vest as Ohio State dealt with the hostile environment and revved up opponent.
4. J.T. Barrett isn’t perfect, but his toughness is invaluable.
Ohio State’s quarterback tied Braxton Miller’s record for career touchdowns accounted for on a run that resembled one Miller might have made, but there were also a couple of reminders when he was running in the open field he’s not the same kind of athlete as Miller or Terrelle Pryor.
No matter. Barrett hung in there, hitting Noah Brown for the eventual game-winning touchdown pass to break Miller’s record in overtime.
He finished with 226 yards passing and 92 yards rushing with three total TDs, overcoming an interception and some early misfires to make the plays in crunch time.
5. Ohio State still has work to do.
The Buckeyes allowed nearly as many total yards to the Badgers (450) as Wisconsin had combined against Michigan and Michigan State (456).
Wisconsin averaged 6.1 yards per play, and it wasn’t all about scheme.
There were also many missed tackles and what appeared to be a couple of coverage busts that led to big plays for the hosts.
Offensively, right tackle continues to be an issue for Ohio State, and the receiving corps could do more to help out Barrett when he gets the ball in their vicinity.
At the midway point of the season, there aren’t many easy assignments left for a team with national championship aspirations, but the Buckeyes are going to have to shore up those things to reach that ultimate goal.