Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Do the Buckeyes have revenge on their minds coming into Saturday’s game against Wisconsin?
In a word, no.
On Oct. 16, 2010, OSU, then the No.1-ranked team in the country, was upset, 31-18, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. The Badgers went on to win a share of the Big Ten title and advanced to play in the 2011 Rose Bowl.
First-year OSU head coach Luke Fickell said the Buckeyes won’t forget the feeling of last season’s loss in Madison, but added that this season’s game against Wisconsin is not about redemption.
“None of us forget the feeling,” Fickell said. “That’s probably the most important thing. You learn from losses. You learn how to react and respond. But you never forget the feeling. That’s the one thing I reminded them (the players) of. We’re not going to dwell upon last year.”
How will Wisconsin react to its first loss of the season? Will the Badgers’ loss to Michigan State cause them to fold or be motivated?
The Badgers took their first loss of the 2011 season last Saturday when Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins’ last-second, Hail Mary pass was deflected, then caught by senior wide receiver Keith Nichol and later ruled a touchdown. Game officials reviewed the play, which ended with 00:00 remaining on the game clock, and ruled that the ball broke the plane of the end zone. That ruling ended the game and gave the Spartans a 37-31 win.
OSU junior defensive tackle John Simon gave a players’ perspective on rebounding from a loss, and he said he doesn’t expect Wisconsin to lay down for OSU or anyone else.
“You just got to move on,” Simon said. “Learn from it, watch tape the next day, make the corrections, come out fighting. They’re not going to back down or anything like that. We know we’re up for a fight on Saturday. We’re looking forward to it.”
Which Wisconsin players could hurt the Buckeyes’ players on Saturday?
We’ll get more specific than a blanket statement, but don’t doubt that the entire Wisconsin offensive unit could potentially hurt the Buckeyes. Wisconsin is second in the Big Ten in red zone efficiency, scoring on 36-of-38 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard lines. Of those 36 scores, 32 were touchdowns.
As far as specific players are concerned, fifth-year senior quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, will be the player to watch on Wisconsin.
Wilson leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game, touchdowns and total passing yard with 254, 16 and 1,780, respectively.
Wilson has formidable targets to throw to, of course.
Sophomore Jared Abbrederis and senior Nick Toon are fourth and seventh in receiving yards per game in the Big Ten, respectively, and have combined for nine touchdowns.
And you can’t forget junior back Montee Ball, who leads all Big Ten rushers with 768 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
What does OSU have to do to beat Bucky?
To put it plainly, OSU needs to have a truly balanced offensive attack if they want to compete against the Badgers Saturday.
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was 1-of-4 passing in OSU’s upset win against then-No.16-ranked Illinois on Oct. 15. By game’s end, the Buckeyes’ four passing attempts stood against 51 rushing attempts.
Suffice it to say that a similar offensive formula will not work against Wisconsin, which boasts the No. 3 defense in the Big Ten.
Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman is going to have to mix an occasional passing play into OSU’s game plan. Then, the offensive line has to protect Miller. Another big game from senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron wouldn’t hurt either.
Can the Buckeyes upset Wisconsin and shock the world on Saturday?
OSU is coming off an impressive road win at Illinois and has had two weeks to prepare for Wisconsin. These factors, plus the electric Ohio Stadium atmosphere all seem to suggest the Buckeyes have at least a fighting chance against the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin is the more talented team, but is coming off a potentially devastating road loss that may have knocked it out of BCS title race.
The question is whether OSU can ride its momentum and the inevitable overflow of crowd support on Saturday to overcome a more skilled opponent.
The Buckeyes could pull off the upset, but it isn’t likely.
OSU has faced good individual players on opposing teams in 2011 and one decent team in Nebraska, but Wisconsin is still the class of the Big Ten.
Saturday isn’t just a statement game for the Badgers, its a “we still think we’re a top-five team in the country and we’re going to show you why” game.
Emotion will allow the Buckeyes to make a game of it on Saturday, but the better team will leave the ‘Shoe with a win.
Final Score: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 17