After a stunning defeat last weekend at the hands of Illinois, 24-23, the Wisconsin Badgers will try to turn the page and assert their dominance as the top defense in college football against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State has built a reputation on its offense this season, one that ranks fifth in the FBS. Quarterback Justin Fields has inserted himself into the Heisman race and for good reason, showing his ability throwing and running to generate offense.
No. 13 Wisconsin travels to Ohio Stadium to face No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday (noon ET, FOX) in a Big Ten showdown with Big Ten and College Football Playoff implications.
This game was supposed to be a top-10 matchup, but Wisconsin’s shocking 24-23 loss at Illinois in Week 8 makes this an elimination game for the Badgers (6-1). Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor will need to have a big game against a tough Ohio State run defense led by defensive end Chase Young.
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Ohio State (7-0) continues to roll through Big Ten play in dominant fashion, and the Buckeyes haven’t lost a conference home game since 2015. It’s a chance for Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins to shine again on the big stage under first-year coach Ryan Day.
But the Buckeyes defense is just as solid as Wisconsin’s has been this season, ranking second in the country allowing only 223 yards per game. Even though Saturday afternoon’s game pits the two best defenses against each other, the offense will still manage to dictate the game.
#13 Wisconsin Badgers at #3 Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 12 p.m.
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline
Spread: Ohio State (-14 at -115) Over/Under: 50 (-110 either side)
The Badgers are the only team in the country currently allowing fewer than 200 yards of total offense per game — only 193.9. Most of that has come from denying opponents space or time to run the ball.
Wisconsin allows only 58 rushing yards per game. They may have their hands full this weekend against Ohio State, where the third-ranked rushing offense in the country will put the Badgers to the ultimate test.
Offensively, Wisconsin may struggle to move the ball through the air against a Buckeyes team that ranks second in the country in passing defense. Wisconsin is 89th in passing offense this season averaging just over 200 yards per game. That challenge will be even harder come Saturday afternoon, especially with the ballhawks in a Buckeyes’ secondary that has come up with 10 picks this season.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields is the name on everyone’s Heisman Award radar right now. The Ohio State quarterback is among the top players in all of college football following his transfer from Georgia ahead of this season. He is tied for second in the FBS with 180 points responsible for this season, just eight behind fellow Heisman candidate Joe Burrow of LSU.
He ranks fifth in the country with 22 touchdown passes despite only throwing for 1,492 yards. He is 116 for 164 (71 percent) passing this season averaging over 12 yards per completion.
On defense, Ohio State controls the edge with linemen Chase Young and Malik Harrison each averaging over a tackle for loss per game. In the secondary, Jeffrey Okudah joins Young as a potential top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The teams are both defensive juggernauts but there will be no lack of offense when the Buckeyes and Badgers meet on Saturday. Fields’ and his electric ability and efficiency to move the ball will likely be the difference in keeping the Buckeyes undefeated for another week.
Pick: This game will hit the under, as Wisconsin’s defense won’t crack too much. But the Buckeyes could still cover the spread, and only barely in a 28-13 win at home. These two teams could meet again down the line, however.