I need to say something before I start this preview. I hate THE Ohio State University Buckeyes. Any time I have written ‘Hatred Power Rankings’ they have never been far from the top, mainly because they are two sport offenders. Rarely do you see a team be overtly cocky all while choking near the end quite like OSU in basketball and football. I need to get that off my chest and out of the way, do not get me wrong I will try and put this aside for the preview, writing an entire article without a snide comment or cheap pot shot at the Buckeyes… this may be tough.
Last weekend was painful for the Badgers, after blowing a 14 point first quarter lead, Wisconsin erased a 14 point deficit of their own in the last 10 minutes only to lose as time expired on a Hail Mary pass from Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. It is odd though, since posting my game review on Monday I have talked to several Badger fans who are outraged at the touchdown call. It has become the state of Wisconsin’s Zapruder Film. Ask five different people what happened on that play and you will get five conflicting stories. ‘The ball never crossed the plane’, ‘I think it is a touchdown’, ‘are we entirely positive there wasn’t a second quarterback throwing the ball?’ Enough with the conspiracy theories folks, even if there is not a crystal clear shot of the ball crossing the plane, it was a touchdown. Now move on.
Speaking of moving on, I should probably talk some about the game this weekend. The Badgers and the Buckeyes seem to be teams moving in the opposite direction in the B1G. Half a year ago it looked like no one would unseat OSU as the conference’s top dog. Then in seemingly the span of a month there are a few violations, a loss of players, a coach resigns in shame and they are sitting at 4-3 and no one’s darling. The Badgers on the other hand just signed four of the top offensive lineman in the country, there are rumblings that they might get a top 15 recruiting class, and that Bielema is getting big name players to commit out of the state of Ohio (something once thought impossible for Big Red). Although, the beauty of life in the B1G is that this could all change this weekend.
When the season started I had written this down as a Badger win, then I watched Ohio State play. Sure, they are short of the normal talent we are used to lining up for the Buckeyes, but that does not make them a bad team. Offense has been where they truly have struggled. Ranking an uncharacteristic 110th in total yards the Buckeyes have struggled to move the ball all season when facing tough opponents. The good new for Ohio State is that they are playing in The Horseshoe in which they are 3-1 this season, combine that with their 17th ranked defense and Bucky may have another tough week ahead of them.
The good news for the Badgers? Last time they lost a close game to Sparty was 2010, in which they followed it up by (well, by slaughtering Minnesota on Homecoming, but the next week after that was followed by) beating #1 THE Ohio State University in Camp Randall. The spread (now at Bucky -7) worries me again this week, but I also said that against Michigan State and we saw how that turned out. So… I advise bet this one heavy. I feel like a lot of money is going to come in on the Badgers so get this line before it jumps any higher.
The fact is that Wisconsin will be looking to take out last week’s frustration, and a weaker than I have ever seen Buckeyes team might just be that whippin’ boy. The last 10 games between these two titans have been an even 5-5 split, but I feel that starting to tip in Wisconsin’s favor after this game. Tattoogate and the rest of the tumultuous offseason has left OSU mentally and competitively at a disadvantage in an evolving B1G. It is fitting though, is it not? That on Halloween weekend the Badgers are playing the corpse of THE Ohio State football team (damnit, I almost made it the whole article).