The Badgers have mopped up each of the past three conference crowns and Ohio State won the previous five. Each have stood in the way of one another’s goals and in the process created an intriguing rivalry.
This year is no different as the winner of this game projects to be the Leaders Division’s representative in the Big Ten Championship.
Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 0-0) Analysis: The Buckeyes have started this year like they ended the last, rolling up on opponents at home. They beat Buffalo, San Diego State and Florida A&M by a combined score of 158-27. They also had an impressive road tilt where they pulled away 53-34 at California.
The Buckeyes are headlined by their pair of dual threat quarterbacks in Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton. Miller is expected to return from a sprained MCL he suffered a few weeks ago, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see both play against the Badgers. In contrast to Wisconsin, the quarterback position accounts for a lot of the rushing yardage in this top-ten rushing offense (6th in nation with 311 ypg). The offense was so good this past Saturday, they scored a touchdown on 11 of 13 drives in a 76-0 win over Florida A&M.
Ohio State’s defense has a ton of household names. None bigger than linebacker Ryan Shazier who’s a legit NFL prospect. He helped the Buckeyes’ defense keep Florida A&M out of OSU territory for the entire game. They forced five times as many punts (10) as first downs (2). The Badgers also dominated their FCS opponent but not to that degree. The key match-up will be OSU’s ninth ranked rush defense (79.8 ypg) against the Badgers lethal trio of running backs.
Coach’s Quote of the Week: “It is very much a game that I think our players and their players know that it’s going to come down (to the finish). This will be a classic game.” – Urban Meyer on playing Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Badgers (3-1, 1-0) Analysis: The Badgers bounced back from a gut-wrenching loss at Arizona State in fine form with a 41-10 win over Purdue. It gives them an early leg up on the conference race and cemented them as a contender in the last season of the Leaders division.
Gary Andersen’s boys are rushing stalwarts, ranking third in the country with 349.8 rushing yards per game. Sophomore running back Melvin Gordon has crashed the Heisman-hopeful party with his nation-leading 156.0 yards per game. Good luck trying to key in on Gordon because senior James White and true freshman Corey Clement are just as hungry and there isn’t a huge drop-off in talent.
The key match-up from the Badgers perspective will be on the defensive side. UW’s secondary struggled against the tall and physical receivers of Arizona State and there could be much of the same against the Buckeyes. Wisconsin is using a much more aggressive 3-4 defense this year and they need those linebackers to be better at dropping back in to coverage.
Coach’s Quote of the Week: “Is the throwing game a concern? Yes. Is it alarming? I would say no, but it’s a concern, and we want to get better because, again, great running teams, if they have the ability to get those safeties to back off just a little bit, it really helps.” – Gary Andersen on the Badgers’ struggling pass game.
Brutally Honest Prediction: Wisconsin 27 Ohio State 24
I completely agree with Urban Meyer when he says this is going to be a close game that goes all the way to the final possession. Heck, the last two times the Badgers and Buckeyes met, it came down to the final possession. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Ohio State snuck out with both of those wins. As motivated as Wisconsin looked last week against Purdue and Andersen’s preparation on the road as an underdog, I like Wisconsin’s chance behind a very dominant rushing attack.
TV Coverage: ABC 7:12 PM CT; Brent Musberger (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Heather Cox (sidelines)
Betting Lines: Ohio State favored by 7.5 and over/under at 54 points.
2013 Record straight up: 4-0
2013 Record against the spread: 1-3
2013 Record in over/under: 2-1
*no over/under for Tennessee Tech game
Last week redux: Picked Badgers to win 40-14 over Purdue (they actually won 41-10). Hit on straight up, spread and over/under.
Do you think the Badgers have a shot at upsetting the Buckeyes? 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 sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends 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 email@example.com.
*Pictures obtained from buckeyempire.com and laketheposts.com