Ohio State has won 19 straight road games with the last loss coming in 2011 to Michigan in Ann Arbor (40-34). Wisconsin is coming off of a bye for this game.
The Buckeyes are averaging 53 points per game entering this contest and are rushing for 323 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 214 yards per game through the air this season.
Quarterback J.T Barrett is the catalyst for Urban Meyer’s offense and has played at an elite level through the first five games of the year. Barrett is completing 64% of his passes for 981 yards with 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has also rushed for 342 yards on the ground with four scores. Barrett will need to attack the Badgers defense on the perimeter to open up running lanes for Mike Weber later in the contest between the tackles. Barrett’s speed on the edge poses a major problem for Wisconsin and can force the Badgers to load the box to contain him.
Weber leads the team with 566 rushing yards averaging 6.8 yards per carry with four scores and is a very tough inside runner that can wear down the Badgers front seven.
Wide receivers Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson and Noah Brown have combined for 50 receptions with 12 touchdowns. This group seems to be getting better each week but will be challenged by a solid secondary by Wisconsin and force them to work over the middle of the field.
Defensively, the Buckeyes are allowing 10 points per game and are very solid against the run allowing 96 rushing yards to opposing offenses. Ohio State is giving up 148 passing yards per game and only has 11 sacks through the first five games.
Ohio State will need to put the pressure on the Wisconsin offense to throw over the top. They must force either Bart Houston or Alex Hornibrook to beat them deep. Ohio State has done an excellent job of winning the turnover battle in key games. The unit is +8 in turnover margin entering this game in Madison.
The Badgers are averaging 26 points per game and cannot afford to get into a shootout with Ohio State in Camp Randall. The Badgers must force a methodical low scoring game that features their rushing attack. Wisconsin is averaging 161 rushing yards per game and passing for 198 yards per game. Head coach Paul Chryst must utilize play action on first and second down to loosen up the Buckeyes front seven and take the pressure off of their offensive line.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook looked like a redshirt freshman against the Wolverines two weeks ago and failed to stretch the Michigan secondary on deep balls. Hornibrook is completing 55% of his passes for 466 yards with 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Look for Bart Houston to see action as well. Houston is the more experienced quarterback that beat LSU week one and gives Chryst the opportunity to have a solid backup in this game should Hornibrook fail.
Wisconsin will need to open up the playbook to allow the running back Corey Clement to make plays in the run game. Clement leads the team with 319 rushing yards with 5 scores. However, he is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry because of the lack of big play ability in the passing game. In the loss to Michigan, Clement managed 68 rushing yards on 17 carries (4.o yards per carry).
Wisconsin is converting 41% on third down attempts and this will be critical for the Badgers to control the tempo on ball control drives to keep J.T Barrett on the sidelines.
Defensively, the Badgers are allowing 12 points per game and is very solid in run support giving up 90 rushing yards to opposing offenses. However, up until this point, the defense has not faced an athletic quarterback like J.T Barrett that puts pressure on the perimeter of the defense.
Wisconsin is allowing 201 passing yards per game and enters this game with 15 total sacks through the first five games. Wisconsin is even in turnover margin and must win the turnover battle against Ohio State to get the home win.
Wisconsin must shut down Barrett in the running game and force him to stay in the pocket. They cannot allow him to break contain because their defense does not have the speed to run sideline to sideline.
LISTEN TO A FULL PREVIEW OF THIS GAME SATURDAY MORNING FROM 10-12PM EST: