Although the Ohio State Buckeyes are the stand undefeated, they head into the loony bin that is Camp Randall Stadium three point underdogs. Even with Wisconsin’s home field advantage, I’m going to go out on a limb with this one and call the upset for Ohio State.
Wisconsin raised a few eyebrows after they ran straight through Indiana’s defensive sieve for a whopping 514 yards. Go back a week to Michigan State and that running game doesn’t look near as good. Averaging .5 yards per attempt, Wisconsin was only able to move the ball forward 19 yards on the ground. That’s only one first down folks. Against Nebraska they looked a little better rushing an avg. 1.4 yards per carry for a total 41 yards.
Factor in a quarterback roster resembling a game of musical chairs and we can expect the classic run it right up the middle old school Big Ten offense from Wisconsin.
Is the defense ready
As we all know, early in the season the Buckeyes struggled on defense. Injuries combined with a serious case of tackle avoidance raised more than a few eyebrows about the defensive line and Coach Fickell. Since the last three minutes of the Purdue game (actually the entire game) the Buckeye defense has really stepped up. They effectively shut down the Penn State running game and against Illinois…well, it was Illinois.
Beating Wisconsin is going to be about clogging the line and getting the jump on the Wisconsin offense. For Wisconsin at least, this is going to be old school, smash mouth, TYAACOD (it’s an acronym) kind of stuff. This will be a day for the likes of Big John Hankins and Ryan Shazier. Etinne Sabino also returns to a much healthier Ohio State defensive line.
Against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes don’t need to pressure in the backfield so much as the need to stop them at the line. The Buckeyes have shown they can do just that. With an undefeated season in reach and a chance to truly challenge the pollsters, expect the defense to do it again in Madison.
Offense: All together now
The Ohio State offense has been about more than just Braxton Miller for some time now. That said, getting past Wisconsin is going to take a combined effort on all parts starting with the Buckeye offensive line. Just like their offense, the Wisconsin defense will pound it out a the line. This means the Ohio State offensive line will need to get the push giving Miller, Hyde and company room to go to work. Fortunately, the Ohio State offensive line has been doing just that.
The next step is to solidify the big plays. We’ve heard Coach Urban Meyer harp on Ohio State’s ability to nail the big plays over and over this season. Miller introduced his version of the big play in a game winning pass in the game against Wisconsin last year. With a week off to work on it, expect to see more of the home run shot against Wisconsin.
A dual threat offense will be key to beating the Badgers. The offensive line needs to be able to protect the backfield and Miller needs to back them off by hitting a few big passes early in the game. Moving the ball on the ground won’t be easy. Forcing them to cover the backfield threat will provide a big help when it comes time to run.
With _ichigan failing to hold up their end of the bargain that past 10 or so years and despite Penn State’s desires, Wisconsin has stepped up to play the role of Buckeye rival. No, there isn’t the history or the hatred for that team in Madison that there is in Anne Arbor but both teams have made themselves thorns in the other’s side. Although it may be new to Meyer, Buckeye players know where this stands Many were there in 2010 and there are plenty of other memories to fuel the fire. Add in a whining Bret Bilema or spitting Badger basketball fans and you’ve got all the rivalry inspiration one could need.
And the upset?
I’m sorry but it seems almost comical to call a win by an undefeated Ohio State an upset but technically, that’s what it will be. It’s been a long time since a week to heal has been as needed as it was this week. This is going to be a brutal game and all hands need to be ready to go. That said, look to Nebraska and Michigan State for insight into Ohio State’s performance against Wisconsin. It will be a tough game but if the Buckeyes can get rolling, their will be no stopping them.
Ohio State 28, Wisconsin 17.