Badger Defense Stout in 2012

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Last updated: 09/24/2013 8:33 PM
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Badgers Defense Gave Buckeye Offense Fits in 2012
By Rob Ogden

After forcing a Montee Ball fumble at the goal line with fewer than three minutes remaining in regulation against Wisconsin last year, Ohio State needed just one first down to secure the victory.

The Buckeye offense ran three plays, gained four yards and took only 1:13 off the clock before punting the ball away for the ninth time that day.

"I'm so angry we didn't get a first down and finish the game the right way, and then they go down and score and send it to overtime," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said as the Buckeyes prepare to take on Wisconsin again on Saturday.

The unsuccessful drive personified what was a lackluster day at the office for the Buckeye offense.

The Wisconsin defense put the clamps on the OSU offense last season in Madison.
Photo by Jim Davidson

Ohio State scored a only single offensive touchdown in regulation, threw for only 97 yards and was out-gained 360-to-236 by the Badgers.

This year, receivers coach Zach Smith said, things should be different.

"I think that's probably the biggest development in the past 12 months has been our development of the skill positions, being able to throw the ball more efficiently and some of the things last year that we weren't comfortable with, we're more comfortable now," Smith said.

"We needed to establish a wider arsenal of skill players to use. That was critical for us, because defenses can take away one guy, one position. But if they have to worry about across the board five skill players at every snap, everything opens up. That was something we really needed to do this year and fortunately it's happening so far."

The OSU passing game was limited to just 97 yards in Madison
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

The Buckeyes' offense has passed the test so far. Ohio State has opened the season by scoring 40 points or more in four consecutive games for the first time since 1917, and leads the Big Ten with 52.5 points per game.

But the Buckeyes haven't really been tested. That will change this week when Wisconsin comes to town.

Led by first-year coach Gary Anderson, the Badger defense leads the conference with only 10.5 points allowed per game.

The Ohio State offense won't be the only reshaped unit on the field Saturday. As far as scheme, Meyer said Wisconsin's defense is different from what the Buckeyes faced last season.

"A lot different. They are very active," he said. "I think they have got very, very good players that are tough, great technique, sound. They are doing a little more creativity on defense than they did last year.

"It's a little bit like our defense, but it's a much different scheme than it was a year ago."

Though the scheme is different, one thing remains the same, center Corey Linsely said.

"It's typical Wisconsin," he said. "Defense is tough, hard-nosed, they come at you, never take a play off. It was like that last year and I'm sure it's gonna be like that this year."

Linsley is fine with that type of game. In fact, he said he prefers it.

For a while now, Wisconsin has been known for its physical style of play, especially on offense, where the Badgers prefer to win a game in the trenches rather than through the air.

Linsely said the Buckeyes can play that way, as well.

"We run a high-tempo offense, but the physicality has never left," he said. "Coming off the ball, you can throw away the playbook, it's just hitting hard. The intensity has never left, whether we're a spread team or a power-I."

The Badgers average 350 rushing yards per game, and lead the nation with 1,399 total rushing yards this season. But the Buckeyes aren't far behind. Ohio State ranks second in the country with 1,244 total rushing yards.

"I'm sure that (offensive line coach) Ed Warner would say that there's a little bit of pride on the line, especially because of stigmas that are associated with the spread offense," Smith said.

"Everyone knows Wisconsin's run attack and how it's a power run game and how that's kind of what they do. We are a power run football team. It may be out of different sets, but we are still going to run right at you and hit you in the mouth, and we are going to run power football."

Meyer said his only focus is on winning the game.

"Power football is a big part of (our offense), especially with (Carlos Hyde) back. So there will be power, but it's not trying to show something," Meyer said. "It's trying to find a way to stay in that left hand of the column at the end of the day."

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