Roby Questions Claim of Badger Royalty
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said repeatedly this week that Wisconsin is the king of the Big Ten right now, but Buckeye corner back Bradley Roby has a different idea about who wears the crown.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"We know we're the king, so we're not worried about anybody else," Roby said Wednesday. "Simple as that."
The Badgers, winners of three-consecutive conference championships, make a compelling case to be called king, but the Buckeyes have won five of the past six games between the schools, including last year's 21-14 overtime win in Madison.
The debate will be settled on the field Saturday, when the 3-1 Badgers roll into Columbus to take on the undefeated Buckeyes.
For Roby, the primetime showdown is more than just another Big Ten game.
"It's a good rivalry, just because the last couple games have been so close," he said. "Anytime you have close games like that in a series, it's automatically a rivalry."
The last three games between the schools have been classics. Last year's overtime thriller followed a Hail Mary victory for the Ohio State in 2011. The Buckeyes knocked off the heavily-favored Badgers and returned the favor for Wisconsin knocking Ohio State from No. 1 in 2010.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Meyer said the rivalry didn't exist when he was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in the late 1980's. Now, he said, it's one of the biggest games on the schedule, and Saturday, it's an opportunity to knock Wisconsin from its perch.
"(Wisconsin) is the leader of the conference — top dog of the Big Ten," he said. "It'll be a challenge, but our players get it."
Three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances brings notoriety, but it's lost on sophomore defensive end Noah Spence, who said he hasn't been around long enough to grasp the rivalry.
"I've only played them one other time. It's just another game to me," he said.
Spence added that he knows the game means more to some of his teammates.
"I just try to not make it so big so I won't be nervous coming into the game."
Roby is one of those guys that takes Wisconsin more seriously. The fact that the Badgers played in the Big Ten championship game in place of the Buckeyes last year only adds to Roby's intensity.
"Last year they took our opportunity in the Big Ten championship, so it was kinda hard watching that, knowing we should've been playing," he said.
"It definitely adds something, because when somebody takes what's yours, you're obviously not gonna be happy about it. Next time you see them it's gonna be a fight, so that's basically what it is. This game is gonna be a fight."
If history is any indication, Roby's right. Each of the last three games between the schools have been decided by one score.
The Leaders Division championship was decided on the field in 2012, and the same might be this case this year.
"Anytime you open up the Big Ten with a game like this, it's always big," Roby said. "Us two teams are the biggest two teams on our side, so to get a leg up on the first game is perfect. We're taking this game very seriously."
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