Ohio State plays its penultimate game of the season this afternoon at Wisconsin, pitting, on paper, the two best teams in the Leaders (or Legends?) Division. Ohio State remains the conference’s lone unbeaten, sitting on a perfect 10-0 record. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has actually secured the berth in the B1G TEN Championship Game by virtue of Ohio State’s and Penn State’s respective postseason bans this year. While calling this a “rivalry” mistakenly assumes that Wisconsin is a “thing” that deserves our attention, it has nonetheless been an interesting series since Bert Bielema succeeded Barry Alvarez. Wisconsin, which just lost one game in 2006 (at That School Up North), did not play Ohio State in Bielema’s first year. In 2007, Ohio State found itself down a touchdown at home before finishing with the game’s final 28 points in a 38-17 victory. In 2008, Ohio State needed a last minute drive to beat the Badgers under the lights in Madison. The next year, Ohio State needed defense and special teams to overwhelm the Badgers in a game where Ohio State was outgained by 184 yards. As for the past two years? You may know well by now. The Badgers took down the #1 Buckeyes in 2010 in Camp Randall. The next year, the home dogs upset the Badgers on a hail mary.
My preview went online yesterday. Wisconsin lacks a lot of the firepower from last year, but the story remains the same. If the Buckeyes are stout against the run, as we like to think we are, we need our guys to shut down the outside zone based attack of the Badgers. Doing this neutralizes the play action passing game for Wisconsin’s very green (or not very good) quarterbacks. Ohio State needs its defense to play the Badgers like Michigan State’s defense played the Badgers. Michigan State held Montee Ball to 46 yards and held James White to 16 yards. Sacking Wisconsin’s quarterbacks liberally, Michigan State held Wisconsin to 13 points in an overtime win for Sparty. Ohio State will want something similar. No one wants to see if Ohio State needs to score 35 to beat the Badgers.
Thanks to the shooty hoops schedule being what it is, we’re also going to keep our eye on the basketball game against Rhode Island this afternoon, which kicks off an hour and a half into the football game. Our eyes may be glued to the gridiron, but we love watching Aaron Craft shoot all the hoops. He’s so dreamy. Michael has your preview for this game. So, come, and live blog with us while we watch the Buckeyes this afternoon. You can get the console for the live blog after the jump.