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Ohio State Buckeyes vs Wisconsin Badgers: Preview, Predictions and Prognostications

When: Saturday, October 15; 8:00 PM ET
Where: Camp Randall Stadium; Madison, Wisconsin
TV: ABC
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 55-18-5
Last Meeting: Ohio State won 59-0 (2014)
Line: Ohio State (-10)

Since arriving in Columbus back in 2012, Urban Meyer has accumulated an incredible 55-4 record, with losses coming to Michigan State (2013), Clemson (2013), Virginia Tech (2014), and Michigan State (2015).  Aside from his 2-2 record against Michigan State, Meyer is 32-0 against the other 12 Big Ten teams since he began coaching the Buckeyes five seasons ago.

Saturday night will mark the first meeting between head coaches Urban Meyer and Paul Chryst. Chryst was the offensive coordinator back in 2010 when No. 18 Wisconsin defeated then No. 1 Ohio State under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium, which propelled Wisconsin to win the remainder of its remaining regular season games in order to win the Big Ten regular season title and reach the Rose Bowl.

The Buckeyes will enter Saturday night in Madison as a top five rated team once again. The AP has Ohio State ranked as the No. 2 team in the country, and most analytic measuring sites have the Buckeyes pegged as the No. 1 college team in America, due to the fashion in which the Buckeyes are blowing teams out, paired with their signature road win in week three when Ohio State went south to Norman, Oklahoma and dominated the Sooners to a score of 45-24.

The Badgers will enter Saturday’s showdown as a top ten ranked team as well, coming in as No. 8 in the country in the latest AP poll listing. Wisconsin lost a hard-fought game against the Michigan Wolverines 14-7 back on October 1 before enjoying a much-needed bye week. The Badgers will need all hands on deck if they want to have any chance at upsetting the Buckeyes with College Gameday in town.

1 BURNING QUESTION: One Unit Has to Give — Ohio State’s Scoring Offense or Wisconsin’s Scoring Defense, Which Will it Be?

This will be the second opponent in a row for Wisconsin that averages over 50 points per game offensively (53.2ppg), which ranks third nationally behind Texas Tech and Louisville.  The Badgers have a top five scoring defense of their own, only allowing opponents to score 12.2 points per game, good for fourth in the nation in that category.

Back on October 1, the Badgers held another top 5 scoring offense in Michigan (50.0ppg) to just 14 points on the day. The Badgers will need a similar type of performance this Saturday if they want to upset the Buckeyes.

One thing worth noting here is that Wisconsin has faced some of the best pro-style offenses in the country in LSU and Michigan, but hasn’t yet been tested by a spread-the-field-type of offense that Urban Meyer utilizes in Columbus. On the other hand, Ohio State hasn’t faced a defense as good as the one they will face on Saturday night. Ohio State’s biggest test to date, Oklahoma, is allowing over 36 points per game this season, three times as many as the Badgers hold teams to.

With that being said, it is impossible to know how Ohio State’s offense will fare against the Badgers defense, the only thing we do know is that it will be the toughest test that Ohio State has faced on that side of the ball to date.

2 KEY STATS:

– 323.6 That’s the amount of rushing yards that Ohio State averages running the ball per game this season. Another opponent, and another elite rushing attack will be facing the Badgers defense. The Wisconsin defense is 3-0 in holding good rushing teams well below their average on the season. The Badgers held LSU to 126 rushing yards, Michigan State to 75 rushing yards, and Michigan to just 130 rushing yards. Something worth noting here is the Buckeyes have the added element of Quarterback J.T. Barrett being a threat on the ground, as he ran for 137 yards and a score on the ground last week against Indiana.

– 90.4. That’s the average amount of rushing yards that Wisconsin is surrendering to opponents in 2016. As mentioned above, the Badgers defense has been superb against the run so far this season. It is hard to imagine a scenario for a Badger win on Saturday that doesn’t include Ohio State being held well below their average on the ground.  If Wisconsin can disrupt Ohio State’s ground game and force J.T. Barrett to pass, Wisconsin will have a chance to force turnovers and give the ball back to the Badger offense. Barrett struggled mightily through the air last week, going 9 for 21 for 93 yards with a 1:1 touchdown-to-interception rate against Indiana.

3 KEY PLAYERS:

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB: Barrett is the key piece to the Ohio State offensive. His ability to spread the ball around to Ohio State’s talented play-makers as well as protect the football has been a key for the Buckeyes so far in 2016. If Barrett is able to play an efficient, low-turnover game on Saturday, Buckeyes fans will most likely be celebrating another big win in Madison.

T.J. Watt, Wisconsin OLB: The Junior linebacker leads the Badgers in sacks, and with Vince Biegel on the mend, his role as pass rusher/edge defender will be even more important to the Badgers defense. Last time a top ranked Buckeyes team came to Camp Randell with a Watt brother on the Badgers defense, J.J. had a huge day, corralling Terrell Pryor and sacking him multiple times. Little brother T.J. is hoping to dominate the game defensively just as his older brother did six years ago.

Corey Clement, Wisconsin RB: Ohio State is the only FBS team in college football to not allow a rushing touchdown so far this season. Corey Clement, who has scored five of the eight Badgers rushing touchdowns so far in 2016, will be looking to break through and give the Badgers running game some life after a gruesome outing against Michigan last time out. Clement is hoping that the Badger offensive line can provide some push up front, something that was lacking against Michigan. If the Badger offensive line is only able to open up a single hole on Saturday night, Clement needs to be ready to make the most of that opportunity to run to daylight.

4 STAFF PREDICTIONS:

Andy: Wisconsin 24-21
Dave: Ohio State 21-14
Phil H: Ohio State 24-13
Philip R-R: Ohio State 28-20
Zach: Wisconsin 21-20

Currently a Sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Journalism major. Big sports fan, especially football and basketball. I enjoy sports writing in my free-time.

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