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Wisconsin Football Falls Short to No. 3 Ohio State: 5 Key Takeaways

5 Takeaway’s from Wisconsin football loss to No. 3 Ohio State.



Wisconsin Badgers football defensive backs matching up against Marvin Harrison Jr.
Oct 28, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) catches a touchdown pass in front of Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Nyzier Fourqurean (10) during the second half of the NCAA football game at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 24-10.

Against their most formidable opponent of the season by a country mile, Luke Fickell’s Wisconsin football team fell two scores short to the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes 24-10 in a feisty matchup on home soil.

After embarrassing the Badgers faithful in their last home matchup against Iowa, Camp Randall was buzzing through all the highs and lows of all four quarters.

Let’s go through five major takeaways from Wisconsin’s loss to Ohio State, and the program in general.

Wisconsin Football Simply Lacks Offensive Stars

Redshirt freshman quarterback Braedyn Locke, sophomore wide receiver Will Pauling, and inexperienced sophomore running back Jackson Acker were faced with carrying the load on offense for Wisconsin football in one of the toughest matchups a group could have against the Buckeyes’ defense.

Despite all three showing signs of becoming key factors for Phil Longo’s playbook going forward, they are far from being the “superstars” that America watches on most top-25 teams in college football. Injuries to Tanner Mordecai, Chez Mellusi, and now Braelon Allen and Chimere Dike have forced these players into their bigger roles, but how great were Wisconsin’s veteran players while healthy anyway?

With Mordecai and Dike performing far below pre-season expectations, Mellusi only showing a glimpse of his true potential, and Allen fumbling the ball away at the most inconvenient times, it’s safe to say that the Badgers have zero true superstars on the offensive side of the ball.

In a season where Fickell needed his veterans to step up and lead his team through adversities, they have been the roadblocks faced along the way. While Locke, Pauling, and Acker have fortunately risen to the occasion, no opponent will mark them as stars on the chalkboard — at least yet. Good thing they’ll almost certainly be Badgers again in 2024.

The Badgers Defense Was Great, but Marvin Harrsion Jr. Is Phenomenal

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. proved once again why he is a Heisman Trophy-worthy football player at Camp Randall on Saturday night.

You can run any defense in the world against him, and he will find open pockets across the field time and time again. Harrison Jr. caught six throws for 123 yards and two crucial touchdowns, averaging 20.5 yards per reception against the Badger defense.

The 6’4″ junior out of Philidelphia now has four straight games with over 100 receiving yards and is easily the best pass catcher in the country. If it weren’t for “Maserati Marv”, the Badgers might have actually stolen the game away from the Buckeyes. Aside from guarding Harrison Jr., Wisconsin football looked really, really solid on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Tressel’s defense forced a fumble and two interceptions against Ohio State’s quarterback Kyle McCord, who had entered the matchup with only one interception thrown all season.

Allowing 24 points against the No. 3 ranked team in the nation is something to be proud of. The Badgers had McCord looking like a mid-tier quarterback forcing him to intentionally ground the ball twice and get the ball out of his hands quick on several important plays. At the end of the day, Wisconsin were beaten by two players on the Buckeyes’ defense, Marvin Harrsion Jr. and TreyVeyon Henderson, two of the best in their respective positions.

A Particular Play Call May Have Costed Wisconsin the Win

How different does the second half look if Fickell decides to go for it on fourth down on the last play of the first half and scores? That thought will leave a lot of Badger fans’ stomaches churning for a few days — if not weeks.

After an outstanding 75-yard drive from Locke and the Wisconsin offense to open the second half, the Badgers would have had a 14-10 lead over the Buckeyes if they scored a touchdown rather than kicking a field goal before heading to the locker room for halftime. Ryan Day, Kyle McCord, and the rest of the Ohio State squad would have been under a lot more pressure trailing an unranked Badgers team deep into the season.

Longo’s offense might have been more poised with a lead, or potentially only down by three following Harrison Jr.’s second touchdown of the night. You can’t possibly expect a redshirt freshman to be at his best against down seven against Ohio State in only his second start of his college career. It’s understandable that Fickell wanted to take his three points after choosing not to against the Iowa Hawkeyes and later paying the price, but come on, he really has nothing to lose against the No. 3 ranked team in all of college football. It would have been a statement play call by the new staff to punch the ball into the endzone before the half.

Ricardo Hallman: MVP Once Again

Ricardo Hallman is a stud. Quite honestly, he might be the best player on this year’s Badgers football team. At least the stats certainly suggest so, as his interception tonight makes it five on the year, including a pick-six against Rutgers earlier this month.

The sophomore out of Miami also notched four tackles against the Buckeyes and had a huge pass breakup against Harrison Jr. early on in Saturday night’s game. His key interception with five minutes remaining in the first half sent Camp Randall into a frenzy and completely shifted the momentum of the game. The 5’10” cornerback again proved that defense can be the best form of offense against a great team, and he sure sparked the Badger offense as they drove down the field to the one-yard line before kicking for their first three points of the game.

Hallman should be with the Wisconsin Badgers again next season, and the future looks as bright as the sun for the young ball hawk.

Wisconsin Football Is in Safe Hands

Ultimately, the Wisconsin football program is in very safe hands going forward. In addition to some really exciting recruiting classes coming through the ranks, Luke Fickell and the new staff have proven to be trustworthy and stable, the Badgers clearly have some talented youngsters within the current squad, and Braedyn Locke is on pace for being a very good quarterback in the near future.

As of now, there is nothing to worry about Badger fans. It takes a miracle to be exceptional in year one of a rebuild, and man, are we just getting started. The New Era is here, so sit back and enjoy the journey because one day soon, we will be celebrating wins over some of the nation’s best.

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Christian Rasic is a correspondent and current University of Wisconsin student. His writing has been featured in top media publications such as Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Chat Sports, Sportspyder, and Yardbarker.