Buckeyes Ready for Slugfest with Bucky
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Storm Klein called it the front-seven’s “Super Bowl.”
Zach Boren said his body hurts for an extra three weeks.
Regardless of which side they play for, everyone feels the effects of an Ohio State-Wisconsin game.
Even the fans seem to have a little extra soreness the day after the game, but that’s nothing compared to what happens on the field when these two teams meet under the lights.
“It's going to be unreal. I know a bunch of us are excited. I hope the fans help us out because when we went up there last year the atmosphere was crazy,” Boren said.
“The fans were yelling and you could barely hear yourself think. We're hoping it's like that this year.”
If there is one team Ohio State fans have come to loathe almost as much as “that school up north” over recent years, it would have to be Wisconsin. It was the Badgers who put an end to the Buckeyes 19-game winning streak back in 2003, and last year they upset a No. 1-ranked Ohio State team up in Madison.
“I think it's just a big game. Any time you play Wisconsin, with two similar programs going at it,” said Klein.
“They're gonna try to establish the run, we're going to try to establish the run, and both defenses are going to try and shut it down. It comes down to the guys up front. It's a physical game.”
The Badgers are coming off a physical loss to Michigan State over the weekend. They outgained the Spartans 443-399 in East Lansing, but Kirk Cousins pulled off the stunning victory with a 44-yard “Hail Mary” to Keith Nichol on the final play of the game.
“They've got a good offense, that's no secret,” Klein said of Wisconsin.
“They've got great backs. Big offensive line. Good quarterback. They're a good team, so it's gonna be fun.”
Bret Bielema and his players are going to be cranky coming off that heartbreaking loss, especially after they battled back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter. They ran the ball 41 times for 220 last week and they are the No. 2 rushing offense in the Big Ten behind Nebraska.
The Buckeyes know the best defense will be a good offense.
“If you look at Wisconsin they control the ball a lot during games and they're always scoring points. So yeah, I think definitely a way to beat them is to control the ball yourself and clog up a whole bunch of that clock,” Boren said.
“If your defense isn't out there that much, they can't score that many points. I think that's one of the ways to beat them.”
There aren’t many of them these days. The Buckeyes and Badgers have had some of the most intense clashes in the conference over the last 10 years. Ohio State’s starting tailback Boom Herron was knocked out of the game at Camp Randall Stadium his freshman year.
He burned them for 91 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s loss, and the Buckeyes will need more of that Saturday if they are going to return the favor in Columbus.
“I definitely think we're a very physical football team. Especially up front. We pride ourselves in moving guys off the ball,” left tackle Mike Adams said.
“It was really great to see those guys get those yards, especially Boom coming back and getting 22 carries and 123 yards or something like that. You're always glad to see a guy like that come back and make a real impact.”
It was Herron’s first game of the season against Illinois, but he didn’t show any rust. Neither did the offensive line that paved the way for 211 yards on the ground despite the fact the Buckeyes did not even have the threat of passing up in Champaign.
“As an offensive line, you like that a lot. When you're running the ball and they know it, you kind of just go out there and say, 'Well, stop me,’” Adams said.
“Football is a game of momentum, and that's definitely a way to get the momentum on your side is to run the ball all over a defense.”
That’s exactly what Nebraska did to the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter of their comeback win over Ohio State. The OSU defense currently ranks fourth in the conference at stopping the run, one spot ahead of Wisconsin, but they will have to play at another level Saturday night.
“We're gonna come out there and just be physical,” said Klein, Ohio State’s middle linebacker.
“If we're physical and we play them down hill, the sky's the limit I think.”
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