Buckeyes and Badgers Meet Again
This Saturday, the Ohio State Buckeyes will meet the Wisconsin Badgers again, only this time it’s in Indy with a shot for the Big 10 Championship. The first time these two met was in Columbus, where the Buckeyes beat the Badgers 38-7 in a downpour. That was their most recent meeting, but these two schools are familiar foes in the Big 10 Championship.
They met for the first time in 2014 when Cardale Jones made his first career start and put a beat down on the badgers beating them 59-0, the beginning of Ohio State’s National Championship run. In 2017 they met again, and Wisconsin was undefeated, playing for a playoff bid. The Buckeyes came in with J.T Barrett and narrowly beat the Badgers 27-21, ruining their playoff hopes. This Saturday, the Buckeyes will look to go three in a row.
Interestingly enough, Ryan Day might be at a disadvantage towards Paul Chryst. Day has been to Indy before but not as the head coach, unlike Chryst. He has a very talented team, but he needs to keep them locked in because they cannot take this Wisconsin team lightly. Day stressed that to his guys in their last meeting before Indy.
He showed them a video of a runner slowing down and taunting at the end of the race, but at the last moment, another runner passed him. Day’s message did not become complacent. So far, the Buckeyes have not become complacent and have steamrolled all of their opponents aside from Penn State. If Day keeps the Bucks locked in, their talent will significantly outweigh the Badgers, and the Buckeyes will get a win.
Ohio State’s Offensive keys to the Game
For the Buckeyes, they need to get Dobbins going for two reasons. Take the pressure off Fields and open up a clean passing game. Fields will be playing through a sprained MCL, so the Buckeyes must protect him.
There will be few read options and designed runs for Fields, so if the defense has to commit to Dobbins, the Buckeyes will be able to take downfield shots in the second half just like they did against Michigan. This can only happen if the blocking is consistent. They will have to open up holes for Dobbins to run through and give Fields time to throw. If the play up front is good, then everything else will follow.
Ohio State’s Defensive keys to the Game
On defense, the Buckeyes have two things to worry about, Tuf Borland and Pete Werner. They were Ohio States only flaw defensively against Michigan. People will argue about the secondary and the poor play last week, but that was with one of their top corners Shaun Wade sitting out.
That led to two new faces in the secondary with minimal experience. Wade is expected to be back on Saturday, which is a massive boost for the Bucks. Since Borland and Werner will not be relied on as much in the passing game, they’re going to have to clog the running gaps.
Jonathon Taylor excels at getting through the first layer of tacklers, so Borland and Werner will have to step up. Obviously, Chase Young is crucial to this defense so that he will be utilized. The Buckeyes will line him up at both edge spots this week, but he will strategically be on the opposite of the tight end. He did this against them in the regular season, which resulted in a lot of one on ones and that led to his monstrous four sack game.
If Fields is his usual self against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes will win another Big 10 Championship. There is nothing Wisconsin would be able to do to stop that offense and score on their defense. However, that means Fields is the X-factor. If Fields can’t run and struggles to throw, then it’s going to be a close ball game.
That does not mean that Wisconsin will win, though, because the Bucks still have playmakers at receiver that can make plays after the catch and Dobbins no matter the game plan is hard to contain. Wisconsin will put up points if they can establish a run game and avoid Chase Young, a difficult task. In summary, if Fields is himself, then the Bucks will win handsomely. If Fields struggles, it’s going be a down to the wire finish.
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