What's next for Ohio State football? An early glance at Big Ten opener against Wisconsin
A bit has changed since Ohio State last met Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game in 2019.
The Badgers have slipped in the West. After winning the division three times in four seasons, they have finished in second and third in the previous seasons..
But Paul Chryst’s team presents a physical test for opponents between Braelon Allen, a bruising running back, and a stiff defense.
Ohio State defense:How Buckeyes generated first turnovers of season
College football Week 4: Ohio State (3-0) vs. Wisconsin (2-1)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 97.1 FM/1460 AM
Wisconsin had been No. 18 in the preseason Associated Press poll before falling outside the top-25 after an upset loss to Washington State in its second game. That makes this the first matchup between the teams since 2012 when both of them are not ranked. The Buckeyes remain No. 3 this week.
Ohio State opened as a 17.5-point favorite after being favored by four touchdowns or more in its last two non-conference games.
Wisconsin’s last game
The Badgers rebounded from a loss with a 66-9 rout of New Mexico State, their most lopsided win since a 61-0 shutout of Central Michigan in 2019. But the Aggies are winless and especially woeful. ESPN’s FPI rankings have them last in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Since Jim Leonhard was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2016, the Badgers have ranked in the top-10 in total defense in all but one season and were atop the FBS last season. They’re tough on that side of the ball.
The Badgers have had issues with penalties like Ohio State. When they stumbled against Washington State, they were flagged 11 times for 106 yards. The second-most in a game since Chryst took over in 2015.
Wisconsin’s player to watch
When Allen rushed for 1,268 yards last fall, he become the fourth running back in program history to surpass 1,000 yards as a freshman. The others were Ron Dayne, Jonathan Taylor and James White. That’s pretty good company. Allen is tough to bring down.
Is quarterback Graham Mertz improved? The early signs point to progress. After throwing more interceptions than touchdowns a year ago, he’s been much more efficient to start this season. Through three games, his 190.88 passer rating ranks fifth in the FBS and second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State’ C.J. Stroud.
Ohio State-Wisconsin series history
The Buckeyes have won 11 of the last 12 games against the Badgers since a loss in 2004.