Week #6: Wisconsin – Preview and Open Thread

OSU FootballNow we’re getting to the meat of the Big Ten schedule. Wisconsin, Ohio State, October in the Horseshoe.

Wisconsin comes into this game possibly feeling a little disrespected for being 5-0 and sitting at the bottom of the Top 25. But we know better. Play someone other than Wofford or Northern Illinois, and we’ll talk. It’s very possible that someone could be in for a rude awakening.

Let’s get to talking about how rude of an awakening that could be.

Ohio State on Offense

Since the USC game, we’ve seen steady improvement from all facets of the offensive game. The most important offensive position, the QB, has been looking ready to explode. Terrelle Pryor has found his legs and, at times, his cannon of an arm. Against lesser defenses he has excelled. Wisconsin will be a step up from previous match-ups, but Terrelle knows what to expect.

If he can eliminate the few mental mistakes that still linger, this game could be huge for Terrelle. His “coming out” party was against Wisconsin last year. Perhaps this year’s game is his “I’m here to stay” party. We have been waiting for a full four quarters of brilliance from Terrelle. Maybe Saturday is the day.

We’ve already talked about how good Brandon Saine looked last week while Boom Herron was nursing an injury. Tomorrow’s game should see Boom move back into the starting position with Saine waiting for his chances. The running game is looking good with four legitimate threats (Boom, Zoom, Hall and Pryor) that could give Wisconsin headaches. They gave up 214 yards to Wofford (WOFFORD!). We have to believe that Ohio State’s offensive line will have a little more success against the Badger defense than Wofford did. WOFFORD!

Speaking about the line, it does have to be a area of concern with everyone battling the flu. Earlier this week I wanted to make a joke about the offensive line letting the flu get to them while The Defense seems fine. But that would be bush league. So I’ll just say that I hope the everyone on the line enjoys a speedy recovery. Get out there and MOVE.

Ohio State on Defense

So, you might have heard that Wisconsin has had some success running the ball. You might have also heard that Ohio State has been rather tough on opposing running backs. Ohio State over the last three games has given up less than 40 yards a game on the ground. A lesser writer would say something lame like “something has to give.”

One of the reasons Wisconsin has had such success on the ground is their commitment to pounding the ball. They line up in a lot of pro formations, often with two tight-ends and a full back. That’s power. That’s “I’m handing off this ball and there’s nothing you can do about it.” They’ll motion the weakside tight end and pull a guard and send the flotilla of flesh to impose their will. It can be impressive to watch. But can Ohio State stop it?

Ohio State has seen a somewhat similar offense when they played USC, but as MotSaG reader Kade pointed out to me, USC probably has the best offensive line in the country and OSU’s front four had success in neutralizing the line of scrimmage. This has to give us confidence that OSU should be able to hold its own against Wisconsin’s line.

I’m interested to see what defenses the coaches have ready. The 3-4 (or the 50 if you like) and have had some good success, but that was also to defend the spread. Against power formations, I’d like to see some more beef up front. Larimore will be missed in the middle, but Simon and Robert Rose have been doing a good job plugging up holes and taking up space in the middle. If a Mack truck doesn’t have space, he really can’t go anywhere.

And let’s not forget the passing game. Quarterback Scott Tolzien has thrown eight TDs and over 200 yards a game, but again I have to point to the competition those throws have come against. Ohio State’s back four haven’t been talked about, which is a good thing. They’ve been getting the job done. Hurt Coleman also makes his return and I think he’s got something to prove. The passing game doesn’t worry me too much.

Reasons to worry

Speaking of worrying, the Monkey and I have a fellow co-worker who often asks us “what should I worry about?” She wants it straight. For this game, I think it’s pretty clear. If Wisconsin has steady success running the ball, be afraid. Very afraid. Also, if Wisconsin is having success reversing the running game with misdirection, worry. The Defense will be keying on Clay and the direction the line is blocking, leaving the reverse and the quarterback sneak open.

Also, worry if the offensive line struggles. This game is going to grind in both directions. If Ohio State can’t get a running game established, Wisconsin will be in the driver’s seat.

Reasons to pump your fist wildly

If Boom and/or Saine is gashing Wisconsin for 7-8 yards a carry, smile and nod.

If Terrelle looks comfortable in the pocket, slinging short, laser-like passes to Carter and Posey, get that fist ready.

If Clay has trouble holding on to the ball and the linebackers are getting to him, you know you’re in for a treat this game.

We don’t know exactly what Badger team is coming to the ‘Shoe this Saturday. We’ll know soon enough.

Some intangibles: Weather looks to be nice, clean football weather. Vegas has the line at 16 points. That seems high. WOW.

Finally, time for some predictions:
Pryor: Does he gain more yards on the ground or through the air?
Defense: Does it allow a 100 yard rusher?
Clay: How many fumbles does he lose?
Final Score?

el Kaiser’s predictions
Pryor doubles up his rushing yards through the air: 200/100
Yes, I think Clay busts one big one, sniffs a hundy, but at a price of 30 carries.
Clay loses the handle on the ball after a jarring tackle from one Hurt Coleman.
OSU: 30 Wisky: 20

sportsMonkey’s predictions
Pryor: through the air 180 passing/110 rushing
Defense allow Clay 100?: No.
Clay fumble?: No.
OSU: 27 Wisky: 10

Comments

  1. I would say a win in Minnesota gives Wisconsin a right to be respected!!!!

  2. Respected? Yes. Feared? No.

    Pryor: Does he gain more yards on the ground or through the air?

    There has been an effort to thrown the ball more and more each and every game. Pryor seems to be getting better with each rep.

    Pryor will have far more yards passing compared to running.

    Defense: Does it allow a 100 yard rusher?

    Nope. Until I see it, I won’t believe it. As bad as OSU did vs. Navy, they held the best rushing team in the past 5 years to over 100 yards less than their season average…all while playing a gimmick defense. Wisconsin isn’t better than USC running the ball and they struggled. Clay will be a factor, but he will have around 70-80 yards or so.

    Clay: How many fumbles does he lose?

    0–I wasn’t aware that he had any issues.

    Final Score?

    38-17

    I see Wisky getting their points early, but not having nearlly enough defense to keep up with Ohio State’s ever evolving spread attack.

    Ohio State is simply better than Wisconsin. Ohio State is bigger, stronger and faster in all the righ places.

    Pryor goes off, as does the rest of the offense and the defense continues their dominance…

  3. @eric – I’m not sure if Minnesota qualifies, but they are big ten and might be decent this year, but it’ll take more than just beating Minny for true respect. We’ll say they’re “gaining respect”

    @Kade – Clay fumbled three times against Wofford. WOFFORD!

  4. Well, but Wofford is UNREAL!

    Oh wait, I was thinking of Florida.

    I’d give him 1 fumble then.

  5. eric – beating Minny’s 95th-ranked rushing defense is nothing to “respect” anyone for…

    …especially when to do it, Wisco had to overcome giving up four TDs to the nation’s 73rd ranked offense.

  6. Pryor: Air I’ll say 250, ground I’ll say 50.

    Clay: Won’t quite hit the century mark, I’m afraid. Wisconsin will throw more to try to keep up.

    Clay fumbles 4 times, but loses one (which is the way it always happens to me on my Playstation).

    Ohio State: 28
    Wisconsin: 9

  7. Clay is not starting…Brown is…

    Just FYI.

  8. @Kade – This is a most interesting development. I’m currently researching this and cackling with hysterical glee.

  9. Oh, I thought you meant Clay is not playing. I misread that. Still, interesting that Brown, who has fumble problems himself, is starting.

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