WISCONSIN BADGERS (3-1)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (4-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Ohio State -6.5, Total: 54.5
No. 23 Wisconsin bounced back nicely last week from its heartbreaking loss to Arizona State, and will look to keep rolling with a huge road victory over No. 4 Ohio State, winners of 16 straight games, on Saturday night.
Year in and year out, the Wisconsin Badgers have proven to be one of the premiere teams in the country when it comes running the ball. That has not changed under new head coach Gary Andersen. Entering week 5, Wisconsin leads the country with 1,399 rushing yards, which is 150 more than Ohio State, the nation's second-most prolific ground game with 1,244 yards. Even more impressive, the Badgers are averaging an incredible 8.0 yards per carry. It has been a two-man crew as Melvin Gordon (624 yards, 11.8 YPC, 7 TD) and James White (442 yards, 3 TD) do an outstanding job of following their offensive line and getting to the second level. However, QB Joel Stave has done a very good job of making defenses have to respect the Badgers' passing game as well. While the Badgers are 7.5-point underdogs going into this game, that suits Andersen just fine considering he's 15-2 ATS as a road underdog as a college coach. When Ohio State star QB Braxton Miller went down with his injury, there were questions on what direction the Buckeyes would go with their offense. Two games and 10 touchdown passes later, backup QB Kenny Guiton hasn't missed a beat. Both quarterbacks are expected to guide one of the nationís highest scoring offenses (52.5 PPG, 4th in FBS). Buckeyes RB Carlos Hyde was suspended for the first three games because of off-field issues, but RB Jordan Hall leads the nation with eight touchdowns. He is not the biggest running back at 5-foot- 10, 200 pounds, but he is extremely shifty. A very interesting thing to look for in this matchup is the way Urban Meyer game plans for the Badgers. Andersen was an assistant for Meyer at Utah.
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Wisconsin is 18 seconds away from being undefeated heading into this game after its controversial loss to Arizona State two weeks ago. The Badgers currently rank 25th in the country in scoring (41.0 PPG) and will look to use their offense to control the time of possession on Saturday. Last season, Wisconsin was able to rush for 206 yards, but more importantly, had the ball for over 37 minutes in a 21-14 overtime loss to Ohio State. However, the Badgers are more than capable of stopping the Buckeyes, currently ranking 10th in points allowed at 10.5 per game. Freshman Sojourn Shelton has shown the potential to become of the best defensive backs in the country, grabbing two interceptions in the first four games of his career. He has also done a very good job in helping with the run, something that is extremely rare to see in a young cornerback. Look for him to get matched up with top WR Devin Smith, who has produced many big plays for the Buckeyes in his career.
The Buckeyes have reached 40 points in all four of their wins, which includes a hefty 76-point performance against Florida A&M last weekend. With Miller back in the lineup, look for Ohio State to look to get back to really using the rushing attack, while not throwing the ball nearly as much. The Buckeyes defense has some major flaws to look out for though, especially in the secondary. Even though they defeated their lone BCS opponent (California) two weeks ago, they gave up 503 total yards, including 371 through the air. The defensive line has to win the battle and not let Gordon and White get to the second level, or the Buckeyes could see their 16-game win streak and national title dreams go down the drain.