A look at the "Showdown at the Shoe": Badgers vs. Buckeyes
#23Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at #4Ohio State (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
7:00 PM Saturday, September 28th
Ohio Stadium Columbus, Ohio
This should be a battle of a couple of 4-0 teams, but the reffing debacle in Arizona a couple of weeks back has robbed us of what could have been. A lot of preseason assessments pegged Ohio St. as contenders for a National Championship. The Buckeyes are every bit as good as advertised. Their offense has put up forty plus points in all four games and they scored 76 points just last week against Florida A&M.
In recent years, Ohio State and Wisconsin have had some epic battles. There is very little reason to think that this will be any different. Urban Meyer and Gary Anderson have a history together. Their relationship adds to an already tense rivalry.
Which Buckeye QB will play the most snaps?
Braxton Miller has been named the starter for this game, even though Kenny Guiton has filled in superbly in Miller's absence. Is there a quarterback controversy at Ohio St.? Only Meyer knows for sure what the game plan will be with both QBs. Braxton went down in a game in week 2 and this will be his first time on the field since. If Miller is shaky early on, don't be surprised to see a quick hook and Guiton in the game.
If the Badgers are successful running the ball early and consistently, then this game could favor the Badgers. Ohio St. had to replace a lot of starters on defense this season. And the four games they've played thus far haven't been near enough a test for their defensive unit.
Melvin Gordon is an early Heisman candidate and James White can also get out in the open and wreak havoc on a defense. Both are on pace to gain over 1,000 yards this year. Corey Clement, the Badgers third back, is also on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards. The Badgers probably will not have three 1,000-yard-rushers, but my point is: all three are potential game-breakers at any point in the game.
The Gordon sweep may be a common play on Saturday. The Buckeyes defense is vulnerable on the outside. If they can't stop Wisconsin's backs, it could be a long day for Ohio St.
Passing Attack on Both Sides
In last years meeting between these two teams Wisconsin was able to shut Miller down; both in the air and rushing. The Badgers frustrated Miller to the tune of 10-18 passing with only 97 yards. However, it's a different year for both teams. Miller has another year of experience in Meyer's offense under his belt and has more weapons around him than he did last season. Plus, Wisconsin's secondary is young and was exposed a bit during the Arizona St. game. They responded well the following week against Purdue, but they'll be tested early and often by Meyer's offensive scheme.
Badgers' QB Joel Stave had a pretty bad game last week against Purdue. He under-threw the deep ball, couldn't get comfortable in the pocket and really struggled against an inferior Purdue defense. Wisconsin is going to put up big running numbers (Montee Ball ran for 191 yards last season against a much better defense in my opinion), but if Stave cannot bring balance with the passing game, Ohio St. will simply put all their resources into stopping the Badgers running attack.
Ohio St is the more complete team of the two and they are playing in the "Horseshoe", which gives them the advantage. This rivalry has become pretty fun to watch in the past few years because they play each other tough each time they meet. (They are 5-5 in their last ten meetings. Wisconsin beat Ohio St in 2010 when the Buckeyes were ranked #1 in the nation and they went to overtime last year as the Buckeyes won 21-14.)
This game will be the biggest road block for Ohio St. all season as they try to go undefeated for a chance at a National Championship. The Badgers are more than capable of an upset, but the Buckeyes will not go down without a fight. This should be an exciting meeting.