In just a few short hours, Ohio State and Wisconsin kick off what could be one of the Big Ten (and perhaps even college football)'s game of the year. The two will play for what's almost assuredly going to be a Leaders division championship (and a title game berth in Indianapolis), but they also play to settle the score between two sides who've shown there's no love lost between one another over the course of the last several years.
In order to get the inside perspective, we synced up with the pros from Bucky's 5th Quarter. In particular, the usually enlightening, never not interesting Andrew Rosin chatted with us on tonight's matchup. You can follow Andrew in particular on the oft enigmatic but never not entertaining @thegnc and the entire B5Q staff appropriately enough at @B5Q.
There were some question marks regarding Wisconsin's secondary coming into the season. Has the unit exceeded your expectations so far?
Yeah. I'll say that while I wouldn't grade the secondary as an A, I'm happy with the start they had. There was some struggle with Taylor Kelly in the desert, but the Badgers haven't had to unleash all the hell that Dave Aranda had drawn up in the previous seasons with the Aggies, and the secondary is a reason why.
Also, Sojourn Shelton's had some inconsistencies so far, and he is a tad undersized. But he's made some highlight-level interceptions along the way. He's going to be fun to watch over the next couple of seasons to see what he becomes.
Besides Jared Abbrederis, who are Wisconsin's biggest threats in terms of pass catchers?
Threat is a strong word. James White currently is second in receptions for us. Jacob Pedersen, Jeff Duckworth, and Kenzel Doe look like they're not going to play. So right now. expect to see them throw the ball to Alex Erickson or Jordan Frederick more.
Or you know, keep running. We're a little better at that.
In Wisconsin's last three trips to Columbus, Ohio State's been able to hold the Badgers' running game in check, limiting them to an average of just 73 rushing yards. Will Gordon, White and Clement be able to change that?
You're not going to see much of Corey Clement unless something goes wrong. He's had exactly one first half carry. That being said, Melvin Gordon's a special talent. He takes very few steps to get to full speed. And as home run threats go? You aren't likely to face one that's much better.
James White's probably going to be the key to all this. And while the Badgers are likely going to be down Dallas Lewallen, Ohio State's defensive line has dealt with injuries of their own. The Badgers are going to get theirs. At the very least, yardage wise.
If Ohio State is able to curb Wisconsin's running game again, how confident are Wisconsin fans in Joel Stave's ability to pass them to a win?
If it's one of those things where if the question is based on can Joel Stave make the play when the Badgers are down four and driving for a touchdown, there's more confidence than you'd think. The best he's looked this year was when he's run a two-minute drill.
But long story short? If the story of the game Badgers have to pass on a regular basis in the second half to win. There's going to be a problem. Stave's accuracy has improved, but it has a tendency to wobble. A good pass rush can get throw the Badgers pass blocking. And threat's still a strong word regarding the non-Abbrederis receivers. You force the Badgers to get away from the run and very few Badger fans will be comfortable.
What's the read in Madison so far on the Andersen era? Wisconsin has won three straight Big Ten Titles; is there pressure on him to make it four in a row in his first season?
We like where we're at with the Gary Andersen era. There isn't a need, to cape up and defend someone from their own loudmouth idiocies with Andersen. There's some excitement on the recruiting trail. And as it happens when there is a coach who somehow pulls themselves away from the hot seat, there were some that were never on board with the Bert.
As for the second question? I'm sure there are some who are going to be disappointed if Ohio State manages to get past us and win the division title. But those are the forum weirdos and those are the people who can be easily dismissed. For the consensus? This is a honeymoon season, and unless they somehow fall apart after the tough stretch of the schedule? Season one of the Andersen's era is going to be pretty much all honeymoon.
Besides the end of the Arizona State game, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? In all seriousness, what takeaways were there from that game against easily the Badgers' toughest opponent to date?
Zimmermann (and co.), you sockdologizing
All seriousness? The game broke down about as expected. Taylor Kelly was going to get his, but he didn't beat them deep. They got their yardage because they were patient and played quickly. They ended up with 93 plays and that ended up wearing the Badgers defense down. And even then? With a running back as talented asMarion Grice in the backfield they only really bent.
Offensively, it's that you can really only hope to contain Melvin Gordon. James White's a good running back, and his emergence as a receiver has been clutch. But he is not the physical talent of Gordon. I can see White only getting to 50-60 yards rushing. But with Gordon? It's more when than if he's going to make a big play.
If you had blackmail on Jim Delany and could force one team out of the league, who would it be and why?
I would ask Michigan State if they wanted to stay. They'd respond in the affirmative. And I would say "Sparty, No." For that horrible joke alone. I would remove Michigan State.
Finally, the big one. How do you see Saturday night playing out?
Gary Andersen has this tendency to go out on the road and shock teams with the starts he generates. Happened to us last year, and opening day 2011 was the beginning of the end of the Gene Chizik era when he was up 10 on them really late. Now that being said? There's a reason Gary Andersen's not known for his upsets,
I think the Badgers will get out to a lead early, but Ohio State will be too good to be kept down. This is going to be a game that goes down to the wire. I think it's going to be one of those games where neither team truly deserves to lose. But my gut says the Badgers fall 35-31.