The Ohio State vs. Wisconsin game will be the last test for the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes before the first 2010 BCS rankings, and it is going to be a tough one. This is also going to be their biggest test of the season to this point, even though they already beat Miami in a week two game. Wisconsin is a much more balanced team, and one that has become extremely difficult to beat on their home field. Wisconsin’s only loss of the season came in week five against the Michigan State Spartans, a team that Ohio State will escape the 2010 college football season without having to play.
So what does Wisconsin have to offer as a challenge to the No. 1 team in the country? First of all, the Badgers have the 11th best rushing offense in college football. They are averaging 240.8 yards on the ground, led by running backs John Clay with 692 yards and nine touchdowns, and James White, who has 485 yards and eight touchdowns of his own. Both backs are capable of putting up 100 or more yards every game Wisconsin plays, and having a dual attack like that could make it very difficult for the Ohio State defense to corral them. The difference could come in the fourth quarter, when that OSU line starts getting tired.
Wisconsin senior quarterback Scott Tolzien has thrown for 1,201 passing yards and seven touchdowns this year, showing that he can help spread the field to spark the Badgers running game. That will help to evade some of the swarming Buckeyes defenders, and should help keep his own defense well-rested for the late game. It’s going to be just as hard for the Badgers defense to stop the Ohio State offense, which is averaging 43 points per game (sixth best in the nation). Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is trying to showcase himself for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, and will try to add to his 1,349 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, and 354 rushing yards on Saturday.
Ohio State has not beaten anyone who is still ranked in any of the polls, and as bad luck would have it, if they beat Wisconsin, it could also knock them out of the polls. This seemingly weakened schedule is really hurting them in the projected BCS standings, where they look to debut at No. 5 on Sunday. What they have to do is really blow out a Wisconsin team that is very highly regarded, and hope that the Harris Poll voters and coaches decide to give them more first place votes.
From either side of the ball, this looks to be a great battle of Big Ten power teams, and it is all set to take place at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) on Saturday, Oct. 16. The game will also be broadcast live on ESPN.