Wisconsin Football: Previewing Ohio State & The Big Ten Championship

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 26: A.J. Taylor #4 of the Wisconsin Badgers falls into the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter while being tackled by Shaun Wade #24 and Jeff Okudah #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-7. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 26: A.J. Taylor #4 of the Wisconsin Badgers falls into the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter while being tackled by Shaun Wade #24 and Jeff Okudah #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-7. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Once again the Wisconsin Football team will take on Ohio State but this time for the Big Ten Championship. Here are 5 things you need to know about the Buckeyes.

After getting some help from the Iowa Hawkeyes, along with winning their final four games of the season which included a convincing road win over Minnesota, the Wisconsin Football team is Big Ten West Champions once again and they have a rematch against Ohio State on Saturday night for the Big Ten Title.

I’m sure as you all remember, the last times these two teams met, the Badgers were at their low point in the season, coming off a disappointing loss to Illinois. Although Wisconsin was able to keep things close for a portion of the game and even had the score as close as 10-7 in the third quarter, the Buckeyes were just too much.

Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins ran all over the Badger defense, Chase Young couldn’t be stopped, and Jonathan Taylor had no room to run. As a result, the game got out of hand quickly and ended in a 38-7 blowout in favor of Ohio State.

While this Wisconsin Football team is considered a long shot by most in this rematch, it is still an opportunity to play for the Big Ten Championship and even with a loss, a Rose Bowl berth isn’t out of the question. And regardless of the outcome, I expect to see a much more prepared Badgers’ team this time around.

To help provide some insight into this matchup, I’ve teamed up with Charlie Lockhart at Scarlet And Game, where they cover anything and everything Ohio State sports. Charlie was kind enough to answer five of my questions about the Buckeyes to give us Badger fans a better understanding of the Buckeyes and what to expect on Saturday.

Obviously from top to bottom Ohio State is an excellent team but if there is a weak point that the Badgers could exploit, what is it?

Charlie: I wouldn’t have said this before the Michigan game but Wisconsin could have success on the ground. The Wolverines have talented backs but none compare to Jonathan Taylor.

Takeaway: The Ohio State run defense has been dominant this season to put it simply. Currently they rank fourth in the nation by allowing just 91.2 rushing yards per game . And the last time these two teams met, they held Jonathan Taylor to just 52 yards on 2.6 yards per carry. However, in the game Charlie is alluding to, Hassan Haskins of Michigan averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 12 attempts while Giles Jackson averaged 8.7 yards on three carries. In order for this game to not fall 100 percent on Jack Coan and the passing game, Taylor will need to have some success on the ground this time around.

We all know of the players like Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins, and Chase Young, but who is a player or two that may fly under the radar that has had a big impact this season?

Charlie: Sophomore Chris Olave and freshman Garrett Wilson are two wide receivers capable of making a big play at any point. I could also see sophomore tight end Jeremy Ruckert having a coming out party.

Takeaway: The Badgers know Chris Olave all too well from their previous matchup. Olave was Fields top target in the passing game, hauling in seven receptions for 93 yards with two touchdowns against the Wisconsin defense. But it wasn’t just the Badgers who have had issues with Olave, he has been putting up big numbers all season. In 11 games he’s totaled nearly 700 receiving yards at a whopping rate of 17.4 yards per catch along with 11 touchdowns. Last week Wisconsin was able to hold Tyler Johnson to just 11 yards per catch, and to have a chance this week, they will have to try to limit Olave’s production as well.

Meanwhile, Garret Wilson and Jeremy Ruckert don’t play as big of a role as Olave does, but they are two names to keep your eyes on, especially in the red zone. This season Wilson is averaging over 15 yards per catch with five touchdowns while Ruckert has just 120 total yards but has reached the end zone three times.

With Justin Fields’ MCL sprain, will that effect his mobility or change the play calling on Saturday?

Charlie: Early in the game I think coach Day will keep the wraps on Fields running the football. If Wisconsin is concentrating on stopping J.K. Dobbins, and having success doing so, the Buckeye QB will be involved in the running game.

Takeaway: Fields had sprained his MCL during the Penn State game, but he reaggrevated it last week against Michigan. However in those two games he would still throw for 490 yards, with six touchdowns, and rush for 93 yards. But he was limited to just six carries against Michigan.

As Charlie pointed out, Ohio State will likely be conservative with Fields early on and rely on Dobbins who rushed for 163 yards on 8.2 yards per carry in his last meeting with Wisconsin, as well as the quick passing game to limit the number of hits Fields takes. Although the Badger defense didn’t have much success against the Buckeyes previously, they did total five sacks. But if the game is close or things are getting dicey for Ohio State, we should expect that Fields will become a much bigger part of the run game.

Since these 2 teams last met, has anything of note changed for Ohio State on the offensive or defensive sides of the ball? Or can we expect a similar game plan since it worked so well the last time these teams played?

Charlie: Nothing has changed, Ryan Day believes in old school football. Pound the rock often, look to work off of that in the passing game and play strong defense.

Takeaway: The Buckeyes simply dominated the Badgers during this first game. They out gained Wisconsin 431 yards to just 191, they were 9-14 on third downs, and they had 24 first downs to the Badgers’ nine. Not to mention that these kind of performances have been routine for Ohio State all season long. They just simply have more playmakers than their opponents and we should expect a similar game plan to what we saw a few weeks ago. If Wisconsin is going to keep this close and potentially pull off the upset, it will be up to them to counter what Ohio State is doing.

What is your final prediction?

Charlie: I think it will once again be a battle early on but the Buckeyes will pull away late to a 41-17 victory.

dark. Next. Wisconsin Football Bowl Projections

Takeaway: Unfortunately, I have to agree. For Wisconsin to have a chance on Saturday, they’ll have to win the turnover battle, get Taylor going while also remaining balanced in the passing game, actually block Chase Young this time, and play aggressively. While that is a lot to ask, like I said above, I do think that Wisconsin will look better and be more prepared this time around but ultimately, Ohio State is just too fast and has too many playmakers for the Badgers to handle.

Wisconsin 20, Ohio State 34