The Ohio State football coach said the Buckeyes will face an improved Badgers team in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night.
Ohio State defeated the team it will play Saturday in the Big Ten championship by 31 points in October.
But Buckeyes coach Ryan Day is not discounting the test posed by facing Wisconsin for the second time in a season.
"It'll be really tough,” Day said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “This is a very, very well-coached team. I think coach (Paul) Chryst is one of the best coaches not only in the Big Ten but also the country.
“They've gotten better as the season has gone on. It's going to be a big challenge. It's going to be hard. (We’ll have to) go all the way to the fourth quarter.”
Ohio State (12-0) is No. 1 heading into Tuesday night’s release of the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Wisconsin (10-2) is 12th.
The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin 38-7 on Oct. 26 in Columbus. Ohio State led 10-0 at halftime before the Badgers scored after blocking a punt to make it 10-7 early in the third quarter. But the Buckeyes then scored the final 28 points for a 38-7 victory.
Ohio State has dealt with harsh weather starting with that Wisconsin game. The Buckeyes’ games the rest of the season will be indoors, starting at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“The situation is the same for both sides. It was in the first game.” Day said. “I will say that it's nice to be playing indoors, though, after the last four weeks of kind of tough weather.”
There has been widespread speculation that Ohio State could lose Saturday and still qualify for the College Football Playoff.
“For me to speculate on all those things at this point right now doesn't really matter,” Day said. “I know we got a great team. We just have to win this weekend. Everything will take care of itself if we do that and focus on that. The other speculation, or talk, what-if scenarios, doesn't do us any good right now.”
Day is coming off a victory in his first Michigan game as head coach. Asked if his emotion after the 56-27 win was more relief or happiness, Day didn’t hesitate.
“Relief, and it’s not even close,” he said. “To say that I didn't internalize a lot of emotions that week, leading up to that game, would not be accurate. A lot went into that. It's not just me. It's my family, it's the staff, it's this team. There's just so much that goes into that.”
The Buckeyes had a big scare in that game when Justin Fields was hit on a pass, aggravating an MCL sprain in his left knee.
Fields said Tuesday that his knee remains painful but said he would definitely play against Wisconsin. He said he would wear the bulkier knee brace he used when he returned to the game.