Ohio State will face an old friend on Saturday night when the Buckeyes roll into Madison, Wisconsin to face the 5-2 Badgers. Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell has had some ups and downs in his first season in Madison but he has the Badgers in position to contend for a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
Madison at night is never an easy situation and has cost the Buckeyes big at various points in the past. Will that happen again on Saturday night or will the Buckeyes overpower the two-touchdown underdogs?
This is a classic trap game for Ohio State, going on the road to play in Madison after a big home victory. Per the advanced statistics Wisconsin will likely be the fourth best team that the Buckeyes will play this year, as they are in the 25-35 range, right around Maryland. Ryan Day will likely look to get more explosiveness out of the offense with the return of Trey Henderson. Look for Day to continue to use formation and motion to put Marvin Harrison in the slot, even if Emeka Egbuka returns. Ohio State would also like to see more consistency out of Kyle McCord.
The Buckeyes may have some stagnant moments. But it seems unlikely that Wisconsin will be able to sustain any offense. Look for Jim Knowles to continue with his recent ramp up in aggression and play quite a bit of of cover 1 that puts nickel Jordan Hancock in the box.
Ohio State 29 Wisconsin 15.
I don’t expect Wisconsin quarterback Braedyn Locke to have much success throwing the ball in this game. Fortunately for the Badgers, this will be his third game of action, so he’s already experienced the Big Ten fire. And he’s done it against Iowa and Illinois, so he’s truly been tested. He’s only completing about half of his passes, however, which is not good news for an offense that is going to need to score to win. Running back Braelon Allen may put up 100 yards, but I don’t think it’ll be a very substantial hundred yards. I feel like if Kyle McCord is hitting his throws, this one could get decently ugly. If he isn’t, then the
Buckeyes should still pull away, but will do so almost begrudgingly. I expect the Silver Bullets to come away with a couple of interceptions. Marvin Harrison has another good day. And maybe so does TreVeyon Henderson.
Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 13
I have a ton of respect for Luke Fickell and before the season got going, this looked like the prototypical trap game on the schedule. It probably still is, but I’m just not convinced that Wisconsin is going to have enough firepower to pull off the upset. The Badgers are going through a massive change in offensive philosophy and don’t yet have the type of personnel to pull it off.
Then Tanner Mordecai goes down, and you’ve got an Ohio State defense coming in playing its best football since at least 2019. Braelon Allen is one heck of a talent but like we’ve seen from other recent foes like Penn State and Notre Dame, Wisconsin does not have the weapons on the outside to keep the Ohio State defense honest, which will allow the Buckeyes to keep Allen from dominating this game.
Ohio State starts a little slow offensively (let me know if you’ve seen that movie before), but settles in and gets enough offense to win another low scoring game.
Ohio State 28 Wisconsin 13
It’s been some time since the Buckeyes have visited Madison (Wis.) and while Ohio State is 5-1 in its last six trips, none of those five wins were by more than a single possession.
Wisconsin had a system and was going to live by it.
Enter Luke Fickell and his attempted makeover of a Badgers’ program that had lost its way. Despite being down its starting quarterback (Tanner Mordecai) the Badgers are still in position to win the Big Ten West, which is akin to being the tallest infant.
I am not going to say that this is a bad Badgers team, but I will say that it is a largely uninspiring Badgers team.
Braedyn Locke will be making his second start at quarterback for UW and while he had an up-and-down game against Illinois, things are about get a lot more real, going against the Ohio State defense.
Who is healthy for the Buckeyes this week? There is a hope to get several players ‘back’ but being ‘back’ is not equal for all players and this may be a game that sees a lot of the same faces that we saw against Penn State.
I don’t see the Badgers giving up a lot of points, but I see the Badgers scoring barely any, provided Ohio State’s special teams stay in their lane(s).
Ohio State 35 Wisconsin 13
This isn’t the Wisconsin football team you’re accustomed to seeing.
This year’s Badgers throw the ball (252 attempts) almost as much as
they run it (259 carries) in offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s
version of the Air Raid known as “Don’t Blink.” This was a fast-paced,
explosive, and exciting attack when he had Drake Maye running things
at North Carolina. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have Drake Maye this
year. He doesn’t even have Tanner Mordecai, the transfer from SMU who
broke his hand in a dispiriting 15-6 loss to Iowa two weeks ago.
Last week, backup Braedyn Locke led them to a come-from-behind win
over Illinois, but managed just 6 yards per attempt through the air in
doing so. Braelon Allen is back, and remains a solid running back.
This is an okay Wisconsin team, but unless the Buckeyes suffer a
letdown after the Penn State win or have spent the whole week glued to
their phones checking the latest developments in the Connor Stalions
story, the Badgers figure to come up short.
Look for Ohio State to do most of its damage through the air, while
the Badgers struggle to move the ball consistently against the Buckeye
Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 14