It is now a two game season for the Buckeyes and it starts with the Wisconsin Badgers. The team is rested after a bye week but will the team still have an edge, especially going into a hostile venue up in Madison (Wis.).
The Buckeyes already hold a share of the Leaders Division title, albeit with no trip to Indy in the mix. But even without that the Buckeyes have entered ten games this season and walked out with ten wins.
How will this week's game play out? Will Ohio State be able to slow down the explosive Wisconsin run game or will Ohio State's defense be bested by the Badgers?
We take a look at how our staff sees things playing out in our Staff Predictions.
Kevin Noon - Publisher
This is not the same Wisconsin team that started off the season with a resounding thud. That doesn't mean this is a Wisconsin team that could go head-to-head with Oregon, Kansas State or Notre Dame but they have come a long way. Montee Ball
has rushed for more than 100 yards six times this season but has stumbled against top run defenses. Ball and James White will have to shoulder the load with the Badgers not having any sort of passing game. Defensively the Badgers have a big front seven but have not had success against mobile quarterbacks. Ultimately this is going to come down to Ohio State's ability to deal with the Wisconsin run... so far the Buckeyes have been good against one dimensional offenses, I have no reason to expect Saturday will be any different. Ohio State 28 Wisconsin 20
Ben Axelrod - Lead Team Writer
My theory that the Buckeyes play or down to the level of their competition didn't hold true to form two weeks ago, with Ohio State taking care of business the way that it's supposed to for the first time all year in a 30-point victory over Illinois. I expect the Buckeyes to return to form this weekend, which is good news for Ohio State fans. The key to stopping the Badgers is obviously stopping Montee Ball, who's averaged 66 yards per game in each of Wisconsin's three losses. When the Buckeyes faced the only running back in the Big Ten to rush for more yards than Ball, Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, they held the Spartans back to 45 yards. That bodes well for the Buckeyes, who I expect to win in a close call, in typical Ohio State-Wisconsin fashion. Ohio State 34 Wisconsin 28
Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
The Badgers come in winners in four of their last five games and put together their best offensive performance of the season a week ago against Indiana. Madison is always a tough place to play and several Ohio State teams have recently left without a victory. Still, despite Wisconsin's strong running game and Ohio State's defensive struggles this year, it's going to be very difficult for Wisconsin to simply line up and smash it at the Buckeyes. Wisconsin will have to be balanced on offense and the Badgers have not shown this season that they are capable of that. Combine that with Urban Meyer's track record when he has extra time to prepare and I look for Ohio State to pull off a close one in Madison. Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 21
Jeremy Birmingham - Team Writer
Ohio State heads to dreaded Camp Randall Stadium in Madison as one of four undefeated teams left nationally, but with plenty of questions. The biggest question is how the Buckeyes come out after a bye week for the first time this season; can Braxton Miller be sharp early and quiet the raucous Badger faithful? Will Etienne Sabino be at full-strength? The Badgers threw an early knockout punch at the Buckeyes the last time they entered Madison, and will look to strike early behind Montee Ball this Saturday. Wisconsin has stopped two Buckeyes 10-plus game winning streaks in the past, and would love to put an end to any AP national title talk coming out of Columbus. They'll come up just short. Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 24
Andy McLachlan - Team Writer
When the Wolverines decided to be horrible for a few years, this was Ohio State's best rival. Close battles, last second scores, Hail Mary heroics. Now you add the tension between Bret Bielema and Urban Meyer and you have an entertaining rivalry. Wisconsin's big time free agent signing didn't work out but oddly it works in their favor Saturday. There is literally no film footage of Curt Phillips, although it's not a secret that he's more of a runner than a passer. His title might read "third-string quarterback" but the former four-star recruit has been in the system for five years and I would imagine while rehabbing, he brushed up on the playbook with his downtime. I also get the feeling that Braxton Miller will need to be more of a passer than a runner in Madison. Just a hunch. Once again, we will have a late second score decide the outcome, with Ohio State staying perfect before "The Game".Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 24
Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player
The Buckeyes travel to very tough visiting team venue, Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin Saturday in what I believe is the No. 1 critical game on the schedule. We have frequently had our difficulties with Wisconsin, but I believe the Bucks will leave Madison with a "W". As long as the Buckeyes can accomplish tow things, they will be okay. They must win the turnover battle and must win the line of scrimmage. I do not believe the Badgers have the talent at the skill positions to deal with Braxton, Carlos Hyde, Devon Smith, Jake Stoneburner, Rod Smith, etc... I also believe that our defense is better suited against the straight ahead run game of the Badgers versus a good spread team. Expect a great game by Braxton, appearances in a big way by Stoneburner, Simons, Hankins and Roby…. And don't forget, Urban Meyer, in his career is 33-3 when he has more than one week to prepare for an opponent. Ohio State 38 Wisconsin 24
Doug Bean - Team Writer/Social Media
Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think this game is that difficult to pick. Here's why. Wisconsin isn't the same team it was the past few years. No Russell Wilson at quarterback. The offensive line isn't quite as stout. The Badgers have lost to the decent teams they've played this year, including Michigan State at home three weeks ago. Now, they do have a solid rushing attack, led by Montee Ball. I'll give them that. On the flip side, Ohio State appears to be rejuvenated by the bye week and the players seem motivated by the rivalry that has developed with Wisconsin. The key for the Buckeyes will be to control the Badgers' rushing attack. And avoiding the batteries and debris flying out of the stands from those wild Wisconsin fans. Ohio State 35 Wisconsin 21