It’s time to queue up the Big Ten football schedule for Ohio State this weekend, and it starts with a bang. The Buckeyes host Wisconsin in the ‘Shoe at night on Saturday.
OSU has owned this matchup for the better part of a decade, but it’s always a battle when the Badgers bring in their physical brand of football.
There is no doubt the matchup will be a challenge, even though Vegas believes it’ll be at least a three-score win for the scarlet and gray. There are definitely some reasons to believe Ohio State will win the matchup, and that’s what we’re here for.
Don’t be surprised if this one’s closer than you think, but don’t be surprised either if OSU does what it needs to win and get off on the right foot with the Big Ten part of its schedule.
Here are five reasons Ohio State will beat Wisconsin on Saturday.
Wisconsin injuries in the secondary
Sept. 17, 2022; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) drops to throw during the first quarter against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
If you haven’t been a part of the news coming out of Madison, it looks like Wisconsin will not be fully healthy in the secondary. Cornerback Alexander Smith and safety Hunter Wohler are still recovering from injuries, and projected starting safety Travian Blaylock was lost for the season after an injury in spring camp.
That means the team is awfully thin on the back end of the defense, which is not an ideal situation to be in when one of the top passing attacks is on the schedule next. Look for C.J. Stroud and his receivers to pick on some of the inexperience of the Wisconsin secondary and have plenty of success.
Another week for the wide receivers to get healthy
Aug. 5, 2022; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Julian Fleming (4) and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) during practice at Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 5, 2022. USA TODAY Sports
Though Ohio State threw for more air miles than my last trip to Cabo against Toledo last weekend, they were spread around. Both Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming were available after nursing injuries but clearly weren’t 100%. Each played 23 and 18 snaps, respectively.
The coaching staff understandably played conservatively with the two, but another week means both should be more available, healthier and more dynamic against the secondary we’ve already discussed.
Queue up the laser light show on offense.
Sept. 17, 2022; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Miyan Williams (3) runs the ball as Toledo Rockets cornerback Chris McDonald (13) makes the tackle during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Last season, a game against the physical brand of football Wisconsin is going to employ might have been a problem. Michigan exposed Ohio State’s lack of toughness on both sides of the ball late in the year.
However, based on what we’ve seen this year, toughness and physicality now seem cards in the hand that the Buckeyes can, and will, play if needed. The coaching staff really harped on toughness during the offseason, and it showed against Notre Dame when OSU closed out the game by using brute force.
We’ll have to see that this weekend, and it’s there. Or at least it seems to be.
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads the team onto the field prior to the NCAA football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. USA TODAY Sports
If you’ve been around these parts long enough, you know there tends to be a difference between the crowds in Ohio Stadium in the middle of the day, and the crowds that have all day to get ready and pack the ‘Shoe at night. Add that to a blackout and all that comes with a nationally televised game, and it should be quite the scene on Saturday night.
Unless Wisconsin somehow gets off to a fast start by forcing Ohio State into mistakes and turnovers, the crowd is going to give a lift to a team that’s already more than talented enough to win without any advantages. It’s going to be tough for the Badgers to come into the scene this weekend and be able to execute at a high level.
Sept. 10, 2022; Columbus; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) and Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) celebrate a touchdown during the first half of Saturday’s game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Ohio Stadium. Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State has a lot of weapons. From the running game to the wide receivers, to what appears to be the front-runner for the Heisman in quarterback C.J. Stroud, you have to believe the Buckeyes are going to be hard to stop on offense.
Wisconsin has a very good defense, but the caliber of skill on the outside is going to be an advantage for OSU. Look for Wisconsin to make plays on defense, but it will not be able to stop all the explosive plays that Ohio State is known for. There will be enough big plays from the Buckeye offense to outscore what the Badgers can do.
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