Winner of OSU vs. Wisconsin Game Will Run to Victory
By Patrick Murphy
Last year’s contest between Ohio State and Wisconsin was a battle of running games.
Montee Ball scored one touchdown and was denied setting the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns on fourth and short. He finished the game with 191 yards on 39 carries.
James White added 33 yards and the Badgers pounded the rock throughout the game.
picked up 87 yards rushing on 15 carries against Wisconsin last year.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Carlos Hyde was the workhorse for the Buckeyes carrying the ball 15 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime.
Braxton Miller, who was limited in the passing game, ran for 48 yards on the day.
The two teams combined for 38 pass attempts and 251 yards through the air.
This year’s contest will be no different; the game will be decided by the running game.
“There's no disguise as to what they are going to do,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said about the Badgers’ style. “I don't think it's changed probably in Wisconsin in a long time and that doesn't make it any easier by any means.”
The names on the back of their jerseys change, but the talent does not.
“I don't know where the heck they keep getting these guys but they have great backs, and we have our hands full” Urban Meyer said.
This year’s group features senior White, sophomore Melvin Gordon, and freshman Corey Clement.
White, the starter, has totaled 442 yards and three touchdowns this year.
Gordon has been the big play threat for Wisconsin with 624 yards and seven touchdowns.
Clement only has 334 yards to go along with four touchdowns.
All three running backs have touchdown runs of 70 yards or longer and are all averaging over seven yards per rush.
Photo by Dan Harker
“You have two backs averaging I think 150 each,” Meyer said, forgetting about the freshman. “This will be the biggest challenge to this point, maybe the rest of the year, for our defensive front seven.”
The Buckeyes are not going to back down from a challenge running the ball. So far this season, plenty of weapons have emerged on the Ohio State offense, but this is still a run first football team.
“If you have to evaluate what we are offensively, power football was a big part of that,” Myer told the media. “Especially with 34 (Carlos Hyde) back. So there will be power, but it's not trying to show something. It's trying to find a way to stay in that left hand of the column at the end of the day.”
Getting that W in the left column is the final goal, but it starts with OSU backs.
On this week’s depth chart, Jordan Hall remained the starter, but Carlos Hyde is now the number two back. These two will be responsible for most of the rushing yards against the Badgers.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Hall has been the dominate ball carrier to this point, rushing his way to 422 yards and leading the nation with eight scores.
Hyde just returned from suspension last week and had five carries for 41 yards and a touchdown on a shovel pass in his debut.
With these two, the Buckeyes have a true thunder and lightning combination, similar to what Wisconsin has with White and Gordon.
“Obviously the size,” linebacker Curtis Grant said when talking about the two Badger backs. “One is bigger than the other, one is faster. One is more of a power back, one is more of a speedster.”
“One’s more power and one’s more shifty,” he went on to describe Hyde and Hall.
Wisconsin will lineup with two or three tight ends at times and a fullback or two. For the Badgers, everything begins with the run.
“[They’re a] big power house team,” Grant said.
“A lot of three tight ends, you know, two tight ends. Two backs type of deal.”
Ohio State will line up in the spread, but still focuses on the power running game.
“I'm sure that Ed Warner would say that there's a little bit of pride on the line,” wide receivers coach Zach Smith said of his fellow Buckeye coach. “Especially because of stigmas that are associated with the spread offense and kind of untrue things that are said about the spread offense.”
“We are a power run football team,” he continued. “It may be out of different sets; it may not be with a bunch of tight ends and fullbacks and everyone on the field. But we are still going to run right at you and hit you in the mouth.”
Both teams will look to expose any weakness they can find in their opposition’s defense, but when it comes down to it, the team that can run the ball most efficiently will likely be the winner.
“I like to hit people,” Grant said with a smile. “These are the games I like.”