Week 5 - Wisconsin at Ohio State
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Week 5 Fearless Predictions - Wisconsin at Ohio State
Wisconsin (3-1) at Ohio State (4-0) Sept. 28 8:00, ABC
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Let's cut to the chase – this is probably your 2013 Big Ten championship.
Ohio State could have problems at Northwestern, but it most likely won't. It could get tripped up by a good Michigan team in Ann Arbor, but the Akron and UConn games didn't exactly inspire a ton of confidence. That's about it for the Buckeyes, unless they completely lose focus and gag away an Indiana or Penn State layup. Wisconsin hosts Northwestern next, but gets two weeks to prepare, and still has to deal with Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana … exactly.
Meanwhile, from the Legends, Nebraska doesn't have a defense, Michigan State doesn't have an offense, Michigan has been just plain weird, and Northwestern is, well, Northwestern, so go ahead and assume that this is it. The winner will probably end up in the Rose Bowl, at worst, while the top teams in the Leaders start picking each other off.
The Badgers had no problem bouncing back from the debacle in the desert against Arizona State, ripping apart Purdue like it wasn't even on the field at times, but they're piling up mega-stats against a lot of really bad teams. Meanwhile, Ohio State is about as tuned up as a team can possibly be, scrimmaging against bad Buffalo, San Diego State and Cal teams before embarrassing itself and the college football world by scheduling something called Florida A&M.
Both the Buckeyes and Badgers have yet to beat a team with a victory over an FBS team. In fact, Arizona State's "win" over Bucky was the only victory by any UW or OSU opponent this season.
So the competition hasn't exactly been fierce so far for either one, and no matter how it ended up, Wisconsin failed its one decent test, but still, these two should be the class of the conference over the rest of the season, and at the very least, considering their recent history, they should put on a whale of a show. The Buckeyes came roaring back to beat the Badgers in overtime last season, and won a stunner two years ago in Columbus on a late Braxton Miller heave. Winners of five of the last six in the series, the Buckeyes have been the class of the conference, even with the Badgers going to three straight Rose Bowls, but it's all changing. Next year, Ohio State will be in the East and Wisconsin in the West, so the next meeting could be for the real Big Ten title.
Why Wisconsin Might Win: Ohio State is ninth in the nation against the run allowing just 80 yards per game, with Cal the only team to rush for over 100 yards and a score, but there's just one problem – no one on the schedule so far has any ability to pound away. The Bears have the best rushing attack OSU has faced, and they average a whopping 117 yards per game – that's a day's pay for the three-headed rushing monster of Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement. That's not to say that OSU can't toughen up and come up with a good day against the Badger running game, but considering the front seven was a big question mark coming into the season, and since it hasn't been tested in any way, it's going to be a whole new world when the game starts getting physical.
Why Ohio State Might Win: Inexplicably, considering Arizona State's Taylor Kelly looked like Peyton Manning against the Badger secondary, Purdue never, ever tried any sort of a deep downfield pass to test the shaky corners – Ohio State won't make the same mistake. The Buckeye receivers are making big plays in bunches, with Devin Smith coming up with a huge start to the season, and Corey Brown and Chris Fields not far behind. The ASU receivers were good, but the OSU targets are far better and far more dangerous. If Miller can settle in and get a little time, he should be able to open it up at will on the outside. The more the UW linebackers and safeties have to hang back just a wee bit, the more room there should be for the red hot Buckeye runners, particularly …
Who To Watch Out For: Jordan Hall. For all the offseason drama surrounding Carlos Hyde, it's been Hall who has carried the Ohio State ground attack averaging over six yards per crack with 168 yards and three touchdowns against Cal, and 159 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo. Not needed much against San Diego State and Florida A&M, and with just 68 carries on the year, he should be fresh. Considering Arizona State's Marion Grice rumbled for 84 yards and four scores against the Badgers, Hall might be in for a huge day.
- Melvin Gordon is quickly becoming a national star, averaging 11.77 yards per carry with seven scores. With his blend of size, power and breakaway speed, and great at making the first man miss, he has four straight 100-yard games on just 53 carries.
- There is no debate. As brilliant Kenny Guiton was against Cal and Florida A&M, that was Cal and Florida A&M – two of the worst pass defenses any Big Ten team will face all season long. Braxton Miller got an extra week to rest up his aching knee, and now he should be close to 100%. However, if he struggles in any way, after what Guiton has done, it'll be a huge call for Urban Meyer on whether or not he hooks his star.
- The biggest key to the game could be the accuracy of Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave, who has been just a wee bit off. There will be a few key opportunities to connect on the downfield passes, and he has to be sharp. The Badgers aren't shy about pushing the ball down the field, and even if it doesn't work, he needs to keep trying. If Gordon, White and Clement can get to the linebackers, and the safeties are worried about Jared Abbrederis deep, the big rushing plays will come.
What Will Happen: Wisconsin will run the ball effectively and expose a Buckeye defensive front that needs a little work, but it won't be enough. The Ohio State passing game will give the Badger corners problems, while the linebackers won't be able to handle Miller and Hall in the open field. Every time it seems like Wisconsin will make a big push, the Buckeyes will answer.
Prediction: Ohio State 37 … Wisconsin 31
Line: Ohio State -7 o/u: 54
Must See Rating: (5 Rush – 1 Dads) … 5
Buy tickets for this game at TicketCity
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