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Ohio State will be the best offense Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense has faced all season

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The Badgers’ dominant defense hasn’t faced a top-15 offense this season. That changes Saturday against OSU’s No. 4 ranked unit.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the best offense that Wisconsin has played all year? If you answered FAU, you nailed it.

Wisconsin has the No. 1 ranked total defense in the land (allowing 237 yards per game), and the No. 2 scoring defense (allowing 12 points per game). And they’ve looked elite all season, allowing more than 17 points only once — in a 33-24 victory over Northwestern. Yet, it’s also true that the Badgers competition has not been the best. In fact, it's often been downright bad — particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

It’s been more than two and a half months since the Badgers dispatched FAU on September 9th, and they haven’t played a team ranked in the top-20 of total offense since. The competition hasn’t gotten any better in recent weeks either — the Badgers have played only one team with a top-100 ranked offense in their last six games. Yikes.

Wisconsin Opponent — Total Offense Rank
Utah State — No. 71
FAU — No. 16
BYU — No. 118
Northwestern — No. 59
Nebraska —No. 85
Purdue — No. 76
Maryland — No. 120
Illinois — No. 126
Indiana — No. 69
Iowa — No. 106
Michigan — No. 101
Minnesota — No. 122
*Ohio State — No. 4

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes enter the game ranked No. 4 in total offense in the country. And while OSU has played some bad defenses, they've also excelled against top-10 defensive units. In November, OSU dispatched the nation’s No. 9 ranked defense (Michigan State) and No. 3 ranked defense (Michigan). The 48 points the Buckeyes hung on Sparty is the most the Spartans have allowed all season. The 31 Ohio State scored against Michigan is the second most the Wolverines have given up all year.

OSU Opponent — Total Defense Rank
Indiana — No. 26
Oklahoma —No. 62
Army — No. 40
UNLV — No. 114
Rutgers — No. 72
Maryland — No. 88
Nebraska — No. 102
PSU — No. 21
Iowa — No. 34
Michigan State — No. 9
Illinois — No. 87
Michigan — No. 3
*Wisconsin — No. 1

How will the elite Wisconsin defense fare in Saturday’s test against OSU? The Badgers have looked every bit the part of one the best defenses in the country. You can only shut down who you play, and Wisconsin has done just that — week in and week out. They notably made Iowa’s 106th ranked offense look like, well — Iowa — in a 38-14 beat down, the week after the Buckeyes gave up 55 to the Hawkeyes.

But, it’s true too that the Badgers are about to see an offense with the type of weapons and skill that they haven’t yet faced. And maybe there’s a lesson to be learned from earlier this season. When the Buckeyes squared off against Penn State in October, the Nittany Lions entered the game with the No. 1 scoring defense in the land after playing a slate of bad offenses. The Buckeyes scored 39 in their come-from-behind victory, the second most points the Nittany Lions have allowed all season. Penn State’s defense, particularly in the 4th quarter, did not pass their first major test.

We’ll finally find out Saturday how the nation’s top defense performs against an elite adversary.