Ohio State showed exactly why it can win the national title in win over Wisconsin

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Going into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, we knew Ohio State was one of the best teams in college football. But where they stacked up with the absolute best remained to be seen.

Yes, the Buckeyes had put up video game like numbers through five games. But outside of a victory at Oklahoma in Week 3, the competition they’d face so far hadn’t exactly been stellar.

If there were any doubts about where Ohio State fits into the big picture, they were answered in an emphatic way on Saturday, thanks to a wild 30-23 overtime victory at Wisconsin. It wasn’t the prettiest victory, but the Buckeyes showed one thing beyond a reasonable doubt: They have both championship-caliber talent and championship-caliber heart.

Looking back on Saturday night's game, there were about a million different reasons that Ohio State could have lost. They were playing on the road. Against a Top 10 team. In lousy weather conditions (which included a weird, five-minute driving rain storm that led to a J.T. Barrett interception). They had special teams gaffes. They fell behind against one of the best defenses in college football almost from the minute the game kicked off. The Buckeyes trailed 10-3 after the first quarter and 16-6 at the half. Even when they regained the lead with 14 minutes to go, they gave it right back, and trailed by three with under four minutes to go.

To quote that coach at the school up North (yes, I’m talking Harbaugh. And yes, I’m being sarcastic): “The situation would have ruined a lesser team.” The Buckeyes though, aren’t that team.

Instead, they battled back. And while they remain one of the youngest teams in college football, they got monster performances from a number of different players, some who were playing in their second true road game of their college careers.

On the offensive side of the ball, Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber provided an adequate ground attack, combining for 92 yards against a defense that has only given up an average of 90 on the ground per game this season. J.T. Barrett added another 92 on the ground, even though he took a bunch of vicious hits every time he ran the ball against a ferocious Wisconsin defense. The Buckeyes’ “D” made big play after big play, led by guys without all that much experience like Nick Bosa, Jerome Baker and Malik Hooker. The game-winning touchdown grab came courtesy of Noah Brown, who has just 13 catches in his entire career (although five are for touchdowns).

It was a team victory in every sense of the term. It’s not often you call Ohio State a “sum is greater than the parts” kind of team. But that’s what they’ve turned into this season.

And with the victory in the rear view mirror — against what the best opponent they’ve faced all year — it isn’t unrealistic to start projecting out the rest of the season for these young Buckeyes. Sure, they have some tough opponents ahead but if they keep playing like they did on Saturday, they can win every single game left on the schedule — right up until that final one of the season against you-know-who on November 26th. And while there’s a lot of football left to be played, how cool would it be to see those two undefeated and playing for a trip to the Big Ten title game, and maybe more?

It seems like it’s a collision course waiting to happen and if it does, the Buckeyes will look back to this night as one of the most important steps along the way.

Ohio State had every reason to lose that game but somehow found a way to win.

It’s what championship teams do, and it’s what Ohio State proved Saturday: They are undoubtedly a team good enough to win a national championship.