Senior quarterback Curt Phillips will make his first and last start at Camp Randall when the Wisconsin Badgers welcome in the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes for Senior Day this weekend.
Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) Analysis: Have no doubt about it, this is part-one of the Buckeyes’ bowl game seeing that they are banned from playing in a real one. With a win over the Badgers, they would be named the Leaders Division Champions outright and have a lot of confidence going into their season finale with arch-rival Michigan.
Everyone knew new head coach Urban Meyer would come in with a spread offense, but we didn’t know it would center around the running game. Ohio State ranks 8th nationally with 256.10 rushing yards per game and they put up an insane 39.90 points per game which ranks 12th nationally. The reason behind a lot of their success is Heisman-Hopeful and quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller really can do it all while averaging 291.90 total yards per game, that’s rushing and passing.
Much like the Badgers, a stout Buckeyes defense is overlooked because of the explosive offense. They’re particularly strong against the run where they give up only 107.9 yards per game despite having a thin linebacker corps. They should get a little more help there against Wisconsin with senior Etienne Sabino returning from a broken leg suffered against Nebraska.
Wisconsin Badgers (7-3, 4-2) Analysis: The Badgers are coming off their most dominant performance of the season when they thrashed Indiana to the tune of 62-14. It’s the last game at home for nine different seniors, meaning there will be no lack of emotion for this one.
All eyes will be on Montee as he chases down Travis Prentice (Miami of Ohio) and the NCAA all-time touchdown record. With two touchdowns, Ball will have become the owner of that prestigious record. Touchdowns is not the only department Ball is excelling in as he also ranks 11th in the nation with 122.69 yards per game. As mentioned previously, the Buckeyes have one of the better run defenses in the country, so it will be imperative for Phillips to use play-action and try to have success through the air. Against Indiana, Phillips attempted seven passes with only four completions.
Wisconsin’s defense has really carried this team to their 7-3 record this season. They’ve given up only 14.2 points in the last five conference games and rank 12th nationally while allowing 17.2 points per game. Linebacker play has been the heart-and-soul of this unit, but they received a huge blow to begin the week. It was reported that middle linebacker Chris Borland will most likely be limited by a nagging hamstring injury. That means Mike Taylor and Ethan Armstrong will have to step up as Ohio State’s Miller will be a terror on the run.
Prediction: Ohio State 24 Wisconsin 20
In their last game at home, the Badgers 21-game home winning streak was broken by Michigan State in an overtime thriller. Vegas isn’t buying the death of Camp Randall as they actually have Wisconsin favored in this game. The reason I don’t like the Badgers is because I think Borland being limited with an injury is a huge disadvantage. They already struggle against running quarterbacks (see Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez and Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase) and Miller is one of the best in the country. I’m also not ready to trust Phillips in the passing game because we just haven’t seen it. Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota got run over when they knew it was coming, but I don’t think that works against higher caliber teams like Ohio State. I’ll also predict Ball to tie the record, but not break it which will be a shame because it would have been that much better in front of the home crowd.
TV Coverage: ABC/ESPN2 at 2:30 PM CT with Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst) and Quint Kessenich on the sidelines.
Betting Lines: Wisconsin favored by 2.5 points and over/under set at 53 points.
2012 Record straight up: 9-1
2012 Record against the spread: 4-5
2012 Record in over/under: 7-2
*No betting line for Badgers match-up with Northern Iowa
What do you think will result from the Badgers and Buckeyes meeting at Camp Randall this weekend? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curt Phillips (espn.com)
Braxton Miller (zimbrio.com)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks