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Ohio State football’s seasoned defensemen made a statement on the opening down at…


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Most of Ohio State football’s recent defensive performances have featured some sort of statement-making sequence or play.

The Buckeyes’ successful defense of a single yard at the end of the first half on Saturday night at Wisconsin was the turning point. After driving from midfield down to the 1, the Badgers took three shots at their first touchdown. A fortunate knee scrape and two stops later, Ohio State had forced a field goal attempt.

On first and goal from the 1, Wisconsin receiver Skyler Bell at first appeared to score a walk-in touchdown. Officials reviewed the play, though, and determined his knee touched down at the 1 while he attempted to catch a low throw from Braedyn Locke.

Wisconsin went back to lead back Braelon Allen on second down, but defensive end Jack Sawyer stepped up to stuff him. (He also inadvertently drove his helmet into J.T. Tuimoloau’s hip, knocking the other starting defensive end from the game for one play.)

On third down, the Badgers sort of merged those first two attempts with a shovel pass to Allen. Tommy Eichenberg stepped up from Mike linebacker and held Allen to no gain.

“We always say: Give us an inch, and we’ll defend it,” Sawyer said. “That’s kind of just our motto. Thus, it was quite satisfying to maintain composure and compel them to attempt a field goal towards the conclusion of the half. I think that was big for us.”

The two veterans involved in those final two plays shared OSU’s defensive player of the game award this week, which may not have happened by accident. Eichenberg posted seven tackles with one pass breakup and graded out at 91%. Sawyer recorded six tackles with a forced fumble.

TreVeyon Henderson totaled 208 yards on his 27 touches as offensive player of the week, and his 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter sealed the win.

Linebacker Cody Simon was again singled out as special teams player of the week for his work on coverage units.

NFL Buckeyes

One week after Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s first career touchdown reception, his second career score upended the Browns.

Smith-Njigba scored on a 9-yard screen pass with 38 seconds remaining to lift the Seahawks to a 24-20 victory. He finished with 36 yards on three receptions.

Denzel Ward recorded four tackles with a pass breakup for the Browns.

• Former OSU teammates Baron Browning and Jonathon Cooper teamed up for one of the key plays in the Broncos’ 24-9 upset of the Chiefs. With Kansas City likely heading in for another score, Browning got to Patrick Mahomes for a strip sack, and Cooper recovered the fumble.

Browning recorded two sacks, while Cooper added half a sack of his own.

• Garrett Wilson totaled 100 yards on seven receptions, and he and Jeremy Ruckert helped the Jets edge crosstown rivals the Giants 13-10 in overtime. Ruckert, a New York native and lifelong Jets fan, was made a captain for the day.

“I couldn’t stand those Giants fans growing up,” Ruckert said. “The entire week—the entire year—is better when you go to school.”

• Cam Johnson launched a 74-yard punt that now stands as the longest in Texans’ history. Houston’s more famous former Buckeye, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, completed 16 of 24 passes for 140 yards and rushed for 13 yards and a touchdown. However, the Panthers emerged victorious 15–13, along with Stroud’s California buddy Bryce Young, who defeated him for the 2021 Heisman Trophy.

Key dates

  • Ohio State at Rutgers: 5 days, Nov. 4
  • Michigan at Ohio State: 26 days, Nov. 25
  • 35 days until the winter transfer portal opens on December 4
  • Early signing period starts: 51 days, Dec. 20-22
  • College Football Playoff National Championship: 70 days, Jan. 8, 2024
  • NFL Draft underclassmen entry deadline: 77 days, Jan. 15, 2024
  • Regular signing period starts: 101 days, Feb. 7-April 1, 2024
  • NFL Scouting Combine: 121 days, Feb. 27-March 4, 2024

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