No. 3 Ohio State hits the road to square off against the Wisconsin Badgers in a Saturday night Big Ten battle. The Buckeyes are fresh off a huge conference win against Penn State last week and will have to avoid a letdown against a Badgers team they’ve beaten nine straight times.
That means this could serve as a preview of the Big Ten title game. The Badgers are back in first in the West while Ohio State remains undefeated alongside Michigan in the East. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of other fun storylines to pick apart.
Wisconsin is in its first year under Luke Fickell, who grew up in Columbus, played for the Buckeyes and got his coaching start with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: Need to know
Ohio State’s offense continues to struggle in the red zone: This is not the Ohio State you’ve grown used to in recent years. The defense is better than the offense. Ohio State ranks only No. 29 nationally in points per possession, primarily because of its inability to finish drives. The Buckeyes reach the red zone on only 35.44% of their possessions (No. 32 nationally), and when they get there they settle for too many field goals. The team’s 4.18 points per red zone possession ranks No. 83 nationally. It’s the area of the field where Ohio State’s struggles to run the ball stand out. Quarterback Kyle McCord doesn’t have the same ability as previous Ohio State signal callers when passing windows shrink.
Braedyn Locke is likely to start at QB for Wisconsin: Starting QB Tanner Mordecai was injured in Wisconsin’s loss to Iowa two weeks ago and is out indefinitely. Braedyn Locke stepped in and started last week’s game against Illinois. While wasn’t particularly efficient, Locke does have a live arm and played pretty well all things considered. He completed only 51.2% of his passes, but did finish with 240 yards and two touchdowns. The key will be the Badgers’ ability to protect him. Locke was pressured often against Illinois, and the Ohio State defensive line is one of the best in the country.
Ohio State has won 35 straight games against unranked opponents: It is the longest streak in the nation and includes 15 straight road wins. Just in case that isn’t impressive enough, the Buckeyes have also won 26 straight against unranked Big Ten teams and 15 straight games against anybody from the Big Ten West. As you’d expect after reading that, it’s been a while since the Badgers pulled off a win in this series. The last time it happened was a 31-18 win in Madison during the 2010 season. Back then, Jim Tressel was coaching the Buckeyes and Bret Bielema (now at Illinois) was coaching Wisconsin. Oh, and Fickell? He was the co-defensive coordinator on that Ohio State staff. The following season Fickell would serve as Ohio State’s interim head coach. Anyway, it’s been nine straight losses for the Badgers since.
How to watch Ohio State vs. Wisconsin live
Date: Saturday, October 28 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Camp Randall Stadium — Madison, Wisconsin
TV: NBC | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Betting the under has been an extremely profitable proposition with the Buckeyes. It’s gone 6-1 in their first seven games because the market hasn’t seemed to catch onto the fact that the offense isn’t great and the defense is elite. The average betting total in Ohio State games this yea has been 56 points. The average Ohio State game has finished with 43.7 points, nearly two full touchdowns below the betting line. This week’s total is much lower, but I still expect we’ll see these teams struggle to reach it. Pick: Under 44.5
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