All season long, Ohio State fans were looking forward to this clash with the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers.
This game would be the true test to see how good Ohio State truly is in 2019.
And then Wisconsin lost to Illinois.
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, as the poet Robert Burns once wrote.
Even with the shocking one point loss to Illinois, Wisconsin is still a dangerous opponent that should, should, be the most challenging opponent that Ohio State has faced this season.
While a heavy favorite by Las Vegas (14.5 points, as of this writing), Wisconsin is the type of team that should make this the first four quarter affair for the Buckeyes in 2019.
Below are the three specific areas I will be focusing upon when the game kicks off at 12pm EST on FOX…
1. Wisconsin’s Offensive Success On First Down – Anyone who knows anything at all about Wisconsin football knows that the Badgers are going to run the ball continuously. On 1st and 10, I want to see how well the Ohio State defense can stand up against the traditionally massive Wisconsin offensive line and Jonathan Taylor. If Ohio State can make Wisconsin face a lot of 2nd and 7, 2nd and 8, that is a good sign. My concern level escalates if Wisconsin is able to be at 2nd and 4, because that lends itself to either more running or play-action passing options.
2. Ohio State’s Defensive Rotations Throughout The Game – Wisconsin is not going to quit running the ball, even if they happen to fall behind. The rationale will be that eventually, like Ohio State has demonstrated repeatedly this season, the Ohio State defense is going to get tired and worn down, allowing Jonathan Taylor to make some big runs that could lead to Wisconsin touchdowns. Ohio State continually rotating the defensive line and linebackers is going to be something I will be focusing upon Saturday afternoon.
3. Wisconsin’s Defensive Line vs. Ohio State’s Offensive Line – The precarious health of starting left offensive tackle Thayer Munford is concerning, as Munford has been somewhat hobbled this past month. Wisconsin has the nation’s top scoring defense, and has accumulated 27 sacks this season. Protecting Justin Fields is always paramount, but even more concerning when your best offensive tackle may not be at the top of his game while facing a tenacious defense such as Wisconsin’s on Saturday afternoon.