Saturday night has come and gone, and Wisconsin's dominance of Ohio State is in the past. Coaches often talk about enjoying a win for a few hours; consequently, coaches need to move past difficult losses as other challenges await them in future contests.
What can Ohio State do in the short term after this disappointing loss? Here are some quick thoughts...
1. Special Teams Needs A Major Overhaul ~ I know that losing players such as Tyler Moeller and Donnie Evege have hurt depth, but Ohio State needs to reevaluate its personnel on special teams, as they have been a disaster all season. Fans have been concerned since the opener against Marshall, and analysts such as Chris Spielman have been saying that special teams would come back to bite them at some point, and everyone saw it in the opening seconds of the game at Wisconsin. One can only hope that this is a major emphasis in practice this week and in subsequent weeks, with five games remaining in conference play.
2. Ohio State Needs To Commit To The Running Game ~ Despite QB Terrelle Pryor's proclamations that his quadricep injury is fine, it was evident during the Wisconsin game that Pryor is not able to run at full speed. With five games remaining, and the possibility of inclement weather in any/all of those contests, Ohio State needs to be able to run the ball to control the clock. RB Boom Herron had a good game against Wisconsin, but other players such as Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, and Carlos Hyde should become more incorporated into the game plan in upcoming contests.
3. Ohio State Needs To Establish Its Third Wide Receiver ~ WR Dane Sanzenbacher is having a good senior season, but WR DeVier Posey seems to have fallen off in recent weeks. With TE Jake Stoneburner slow to recover from his injury, Ohio State needs to determine who will be their third option at receiver. RB Brandon Saine had only one reception against Wisconsin, despite his solid game against Indiana the week before.
4. Ohio State Needs To Shore Up Its Defensive Line ~ Wisconsin ran at will against Ohio State, providing a blueprint to future opponents on how to attack Ohio State. Fortunately for Ohio State, none of these teams have the type of personnel on the offensive line that Wisconsin has, but Ohio State still needs to figure out what went wrong on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps true freshman DT Johnathan Hankins, who is heavier than 320 lbs., should rotate into the defensive line even more than he has this season?
5. Ohio State Needs To Win Its Remaining Games ~ Ohio State's loss to Wisconsin means Ohio State no longer controls its destiny. Michigan State is undefeated and is currently in the driver's seat to win The Big Ten and earn the conference's Rose Bowl berth.
Ohio State fans should become big Iowa fans between now and November 20th. Iowa can hand Wisconsin its second conference loss this coming weekend, and plays Michigan State on October 30th.
If Ohio State wins out, going 11-1, it would more than likely earn a bid to a BCS bowl such as the Orange, Sugar, or Fiesta, as Ohio State traditionally travels well to its bowl destinations, something of importance to any bowl game representative. If Ohio State stumbles anywhere along the way, look for Ohio State to still play on New Year's Day, but a bowl game such as the Capital One Bowl.