A big game in the Big Ten helps to highlight this week’s college football schedule when the no. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes host the Wisconsin Badgers. The Buckeyes have won eight in a row over Wisconsin, as the Badgers haven’t beaten Ohio State since 2010 and haven’t won in Columbus since 2004. Currently, the Buckeyes are listed as 18.5-point home favorites with the over/under set at 57 points.
The Buckeyes remain undefeated to this point in the season and look very much like a national championship contender. They are fresh off a blowout win over Toledo last week, winning 77-21. Ohio State also has wins over Notre Dame and Arkansas earlier in the season to get to 3-0.
The Badgers, on the other hand, have already had to bounce back from a loss this year. Wisconsin suffered a 17-14 home defeat against Washington State two weeks ago. But Paul Chryst’s team was able to get back on track quickly with a 66-7 blowout of New Mexico State last week.
On the Ground
As usual, the Wisconsin offense has been led early in the season by a strong rushing attack. Braelon Allen has emerged as the next great running back to star for the Badgers, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and scoring five touchdowns in the team’s first three games. Quarterback Graham Mertz has also started to make strides with a largely inexperienced set of receivers, although he’ll have to be at his best in a potential shootout against Ohio State.
Obviously, the best thing for the Badgers this week would be for their defense to play well and prevent a shootout with the Buckeyes. With only a few returning starters, the Badgers have had to incorporate a few transfers into their defense, especially in the secondary. But the early returns have been good, with Wisconsin allowing just eight points per game and getting strong play in the trenches.
With each successive week this season, the Ohio State offense has grown by leaps and bounds. In fairness, the level of competition has decreased with every week, but C.J. Stroud and company have started to click, with Stroud throwing 11 touchdown passes and averaging 11.1 yards per pass. Some of the credit belongs to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, who have quickly filled the shoes of the two first-round wide receivers Ohio State lost from last year’s team.
Naturally, the Buckeyes have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball as well. They held Notre Dame to 10 points in their season opener and limited Toledo to a modest 307 total yards last week. But the Buckeyes are young at the line of scrimmage, which could be something to watch in their Big Ten opener, especially against a strong rushing team like Wisconsin.
Annoying Little Badger
After the way they struggled to put Notre Dame away in their first game of the season, it’s tough to swallow this many points for Ohio State against a quality team. Wisconsin’s ability to run the ball and play solid defense could allow the Badgers to hang around. The Buckeyes will win but they won’t cover the 18.5-point spread.
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