Here's this week's feature. Sorry it's a day or two later than usual -- been under the weather -- enjoy!
OSU/Wisky—A Few Opening Thoughts...
Upset-minded Ohio State welcomes in the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers this Saturday night at Ohio Stadium in what is being projected as a Scarlet Out.
There are a multitude of reasons why the Buckeyes need to win:
- Primetime, national stage game (8:00PM, ESPN) vs. a top 15 ranked opponent, in front of 105,000+ scarlet-clad fans.
- This is Ohio State's 90th Homecoming game. OSU is 65-19-5 in the previous 89.
- 1995 Heisman winner Eddie George is being honored at halftime.
- The Buckeyes are 2-0 (2009 and 2010 vs. Michigan) when wearing their Nike Pro Combat Jerseys. This year's uniforms are a tribute to the 1961 national champion Buckeyes.
- A win will close the gap and keep the Bucks on pace in the Big Ten and Leaders division standings.
- As @BlockONation follower Angie from Twitter tweeted -- It's about Revenge. Losing last year to Wisconsin in Madision as the then-No.1-ranked team in the nation is almost the best reason, only outdid by the classlessness displayed by Badger basketball fans and their head coach.
- Bo Ryan's elitist and condescending "Deal with it" response when asked about Badger fans spitting on Jared Sullinger as they stormed the court after the 71-67 upset win over the Buckeyes in the Kohl Center.
The outcome in The Shoe could hinge on if Wisconsin comes in fired up and focused, or down and dejected off of the MSU loss.
Brief Game Outlook / Players of Note
Having had two weeks to prepare, one would expect that regardless of whichever psyche the Badger football team shows up with, Ohio State will themselves come out fired up and focused. There's no reason this team should not perform like a well-oiled machine on BOTH sides of the ball.
The Badgers are ninth in the nation in total defense, allowing 121 yards rushing and just 165 yards passing per contest.
They also rank sixth nationally in fewest points allowed per game (13.6). Through the first seven games, the Badger defense has 18 sacks and seven interceptions.
Quarterback Russell Wilson, a leading Heisman candidate, has thrown for 1,780 passing yards, with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His passer efficiency rating is 205.
Leading wide receiver Nick Toon has 27 catches for 505 yards, with six touchdowns. Jared Abbrederis is second with 30 receptions for 482 yards and two scores.
The running back duo of Montee Ball and James White are a powerful and dynamic one-two punch out the Badger backfield. Ball leads the team with 768 yards and 17 touchdowns, while White has added another 458 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Ball also has 190 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
The Buckeye defense is currently 16th in the nation in total defense, allowing 116 yards rushing, and 188 yards passing per game. They rank 12th in fewest points allowed per game (16.3). The defense has 14 sacks and nine interceptions through seven games.
Two weeks ago against then-No. 14 Illinois, Ohio State attempted just four passes the entire game, with one completion -- a 17 yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to TE Jake Stoneburner -- in a 17-7 upset over the previously unbeaten Illini.
That won't get it done this week against the Badgers.Quite the opposite effort will likely be needed for the Buckeyes to pull out a win over a Wisconsin team averaging mover 47 points per game.
Ohio State will, and must still do what they do best -- run the football -- but this is going to have to be Braxton Miller's coming-out party as a passing QB. If not, Buckeye fans could be in for a long night, and a huge letdown and a blowout loss.
On the season, Miller has 403 passing yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He has 243 yards rushing and a current passer efficiency rating of 142.
Devin Smith has been quiet lately, but still leads the Buckeyes in receiving yardage with 187 yards on nine catches, including three for scores.
TE Jake Stoneburner is second on the team with 150 yards, but leads in receptions and touchdowns, with 12 and six respectively.
Even though Carlos Hyde now appears to be sitting third on the depth chart behind Dan Herron and Jordan Hall, he leads the team in rushing with 408 yards and five touchdowns. Hall has 321 yards rushing and a touchdown in five games, and Herron -- who made his return to the starting lineup at Illinois -- ran the ball 23 times for 114 yards and a score.
Ohio State—Wisconsin History Lesson And Trends
• Ohio State is 67-8 in Ohio Stadium since 2001.
• Ohio State is 247-64-20 all-time in October home games.
• Ohio State is 35-17 vs. opponents ranked in the top 25 since 2001.
• Ohio State has won three of the last four meetings against Wisconsin.
• Ohio State is 53-18-5 all-time vs. Wisconsin, including a 29-7-3 mark at home.
• Ohio State defense has held opponent to fewer than 10 points 31 times since 2006.
• Ohio State's defense has allowed just one 100-yard rusher in the past 25 games at home.
• Ohio State's defense has allowed just seven 100-yard rushers in their last 44 games.
• Ohio State has held 66 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.
• This is the first meeting since 1963 where Wisconsin is ranked and Ohio State is unranked.
• Wisconsin is 1-3 against Ohio State under head coach Bret Bielema.
• Wisconsin is 28-2 under Bielema when holding opponents to under 300 total yards.
• Wisconsin has won three of the last five meetings against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
• Wisconsin is 50-6 under Bielema when scoring at least 20 points and 37-2 when allowing 20 points or less.
Final Thoughts and Score Prediction
Ohio State and Wisconsin both play traditional Big Ten football -- they like to run the ball -- but in Wilson, a seasoned fifth-year-senior transfer (NC State), the Badgers have the definitive edge in the passing game.
That being said, the defensive focus needs to be on containing Ball. He is the key to the Badger offense. If he has success, Wilson will in turn find it as well.
Last week, Wisconsin faced the best defense they had seen to date in East Lansing, and they left with a stinging loss.
The same fate could befall Bucky this week as they travel away from Madison to face another one of the top defenses in the Big Ten, especially if the Buckeyes abandon the conservatism on offense and incorporate the forward pass successfully into this weeks playbook.
On paper, almost everything suggests that the Badgers are the team to pick.
I was leaning in that direction, but then I saw the bad-ass, 1961 throwback helmets the Buckeyes are wearing and that changed everything...
Here's spit in your face Badger Nation -- DEAL WITH IT!
Ohio State 27
"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson