2023 Ohio State University
Another huge test for the Buckeyes has been passed, they picked up their second top-ten win of the season over Penn State this past Saturday. A win that may lead them to the College Football Playoff this postseason barring a total collapse and multiple losses at the end of the season. However, as one challenger is vanquished another challenger awaits in the shadows. The Wisconsin Badgers prepare to take on the Buckeyes at night in front of a packed Camp Randall Stadium in a classic Big Ten showdown with weather forecasts calling for a high of just 43° F. This is also the first road game for the Buckeyes not in the state of Indiana where they went (3-0) and just the third time since 2012 that the Buckeyes have traveled to the frozen tundra known as Wisconsin. However, the Buckeyes have not lost to the Badgers since 2010 in a game that took place in Camp Randall.
Coming into this game Ohio State has the No. 34 offense in the nation which has scored an average of 34 points per game with 432 yards of offense and the No. 3 defense which has held opponents to an average of just 10 points per game with just 260 yards per game. The Buckeyes defense has allowed just two touchdowns over the last two weeks to Purdue and Penn State and have found themselves falling into a groove of dominance that Columbus has not seen in years. Now with Denzel Burke expected to return this weekend the secondary looks to be even more unstoppable then they were a week ago. On offense the Bucks lead the Big Ten in passing thanks to stellar play this season from Marvin Harrison Jr. and Cade Stover. Emeka Egbuka is also expected to return to action after missing last weekends game. The return of the Buckeyes third leading pass catcher is bound to keep the passing game flowing freely even through the icy conditions of Wisconsin in October. While the run game for the Buckeyes has been less than ideal this season ranking No. 10 in the Big Ten they are looking to get a boost with TreVeyon Henderson returning as well this week.
For Wisconsin, they are playing better than anyone could have expected with first year Head Coach and former Buckeye Luke Fickell. The Badgers are (5-2) and are pushing for a birth in the Big Ten Championship coming out of the West this season. They boast the third best rushing attack in the conference behind one of the best running backs in the country in Braelon Allen. However, despite his great contributions and them having the No. 20 ranked defense in the country allowing just 18.3 points per game with 336 yards, the offense ranks just 78th in the nation. The Badgers have only been able to score 27 points per game and are averaging just under 400 yards of offense. SMU transfer QB Tanner Mordecai has so far been unable to build a strong connection with any of his wideouts as he has thrown just three touchdowns this season. Wisconsin does have a number of talented wideouts including top receiver Will Pauling who leads the team with 37 receptions, however none of them have been able to produce big plays to get into the endzone.
The icy conditions of Wisconsin in late October will definitely play a key factor in deciding this game. In my preseason preview, I expected this to be a high scoring game with lots of offense and minimal defense. However, this is likely to be the complete opposite now that we have a clearer picture of both of these teams identity and the conditions under which the game will be played. With Wisconsin's rushing attack being what it is they are the likely favorites to hit the scoreboard first in this game unless Ohio State's defense can keep up the great play of the last two weeks. On the other side of that, Ohio State is going to be forced to keep the ball in young Kyle McCord's hands in temperatures that he hasn't played in since his High School days in Philadelphia. The pressure will be on from the kickoff to the final whistle for both sides and even with the great rushing attack from Wisconsin this game will be scoreless after the first quarter.
Once both teams get warmed up from the cold the fun will begin. Expect some turnovers and expect some sloppy football. That comes with the territory of a game such as this one. Just because it's cold doesn't mean we won't see any passing attack from both these teams. After a scoreless first quarter where both teams attempt more runs than passes expect to see both quarterbacks look to the skies. McCord wins this battle of Mordecai and the Buckeyes will take the lead going into the half with the score reading 14-3.
Out of the break Ryan Day and his staff will have made the proper adjustments to get the offense rolling into high gear and the Buckeyes will begin to separate from the Badgers. Unfortunately, the fun and competitive first half likely gives way to a dominant second half for the Buckeyes with multiple touchdowns from the high powered offense. Unless turnovers keep this game close it should be smooth sailing in the second half for the Buckeyes.
Game Prediction: 31-10 Ohio State defeats Wisconsin
Turnovers will be the deciding factor in this game. A handful of touchdowns for Ohio State's opponents this season have come as a result of good field position and turnovers. If the Buckeyes avoid mistakes this game should never be in doubt. However, if they can't protect the football and have a few too many penalties Camp Randall is going to keep the Badgers energized for four quarters and make this game stressful to the very end.
Betting Line: OSU -14.5 | O/U 45.5
Ohio State has found a groove over the last few weeks in covering the spread after a rough start to the season, but yet again this game comes down to turnovers. Wisconsin has the ability to keep this close. I just don't see that happening with the way the Buckeyes defense has been playing this season. Take the under in this game, with the cold weather of Wisconsin in late October this isn't likely to be an offensive game to remember. Defense wins the day.
How to Watch & Listen:
TV: NBC 7:30 p.m. ET
- Noah Eagle (Play-by-Play), Todd Blackledge (Analysis), Kathryn Tappen (Sideline)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
- Paul Keels (Play-by-Play), Jim Lachey (Analysis), Matt Andrews (Sideline)