The Ohio State Buckeyes take on the 4-1 Wisconsin Badgers. The Buckeyes haven’t traveled to Camp Randall since Urban Meyer’s first season as the Buckeye coach in 2012. Camp Randall is considered one of the most hectic places to play in the country, and with Gameday there, expect the atmosphere to be off the charts. Camp Randall has been a tough place for the Buckeyes to play at in recent history, and with Wisconsin having one of the best defenses in the country; this has the looks of a tough game.
Ohio State has opened as a 10.5 point favorite against Wisconsin. Outside of the 59-0 thumping Ohio State gave Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game; these games have mostly been pretty close. Coach Meyer has described this Badger team as a “typical Wisconsin team.” He’s right, as the Wisconsin defense is only giving up on average 12.2 points per game. They haven’t played cupcake teams either, as LSU, Michigan State and Michigan only scored a combined 34 points against them. A hard-nosed physical tackling team always seems to be the DNA of a Wisconsin Badger team and this team is no different.
The other staple of a Wisconsin Badger team is a strong running game. The Badgers consistently have one of the largest offensive lines in America and that has led to the success of their running game. In just the past few years, running backs James White, Montee Ball, and Melvin Gordon have made it to the NFL. This team is no different as they have one of the best running backs in the conference in Corey Clement. He’s been slowed down the past few weeks by Michigan State and Michigan, but still provides a huge challenge to the Buckeyes.
On the Ohio State side, the passing game needs to get back on track. Against Indiana last Saturday, JT Barrett threw for less than 100 yards. Yes, the running game helped carry Ohio State to victory, but it’s going to be even tougher this week. Indiana’s defense is no slouch at all, but Wisconsin’s statistically is even better. That’s why the Buckeyes are going to have to have more success being multi-dimensional on offense. Look for some easy passes for Barrett to start off the game to ease him into it and try to quiet the environment.
With that being said, this still seems like a JT Barrett high usage carry game. Urban Meyer has been quoted on saying that they have been trying to limit the amount of quarterback runs Barrett has taken. By the numbers, Barrett’s designed quarterback runs have been down too. Still, one of his best traits are being able to escape the pocket under duress and run for the first down, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody to be seeing him run early and often. Look for the offense to come out with a tempo power running game to hopefully set up Barrett and the passing game.
One thing all Buckeye fans can hope for is that the conditions of the game make for a great Saturday night. Over the past season and a half, it seems like Ohio State starts to get vanilla on offense when weather conditions enter the game. Just last week against Indiana, the wind caused Ohio State to run the ball seemingly every play. It didn’t look that bad watching on TV, but it obviously had an effect on JT and the passing game. In a game most people think will be close and relatively low-scoring, I have the Buckeye winning 24-13.
(Picture via ohiostatealumnisportstravel.com)