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What Wisconsin is saying about rematch with Ohio State

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Badgers head coach Paul Chryst, players, and fans weigh in on facing Ohio State...again.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re an Ohio State fan, congrats. It’s Big Ten championship week. We’re playing Wisconsin—who the Buckeyes probably would have blown out in their last meeting if not for poor weather conditions— in a nice and dry indoor stadium. We have some nice wins under our belt since last seeing the Badgers. And we’re the No. 1 team in the country with three potential Heisman candidates on the roster.

If you’re a Badgers fan, well, you’re playing a team that already beat you during a monsoon. That team is the No. 1 team in the country with three potential Heisman candidates on their roster. But hey, you made it to the Big Ten championship and your head coach isn’t Jim Harbaugh. So, congrats anyway.

Nonetheless, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst had a lot of positive things to say about the improvement of his team since their 38-7 loss against the Buckeyes in week 9.

“There’s no question we are a better team (than last time). I think you can make an argument they’re a better team as well. One thing I do feel good about is that we’ve had guys continuing to step up. New names are contributing and helping. Some are new names that are playing and playing at a higher level... it’s going to come down to playing good football Saturday night.”

Against Ohio State, Wisconsin’s players to watch were primarily running back Jonathan Taylor—who the Buckeyes held to a season-low 52 yards— and their No. 1 ranked defense. But, like Chryst said, new names have definitely stepped up since then, which was especially apparent in their 38-17 victory against Minnesota last Saturday.

Freshman running back Isaac Guerendo returned a kickoff for 49 yards— his first play of the season. Junior cornerback Cesar Williams made his first interception of the season and broke up four passes. Junior defensive end Garrett Rand made a season-high seven tackles against the Gophers, as well as his first career sack and forced fumble.

Wisconsin will certainly have a lot more up their sleeve this time around— and just because Ohio State shut down Taylor and out-played the Badgers’ defense once, doesn’t mean they should be overlooked on Saturday. They’re still the Badgers’ best assets, and Chryst said he plans to stay true to what works.

“We’ve played 12 games, and you are... who you are. If you’re playing in a game such as this, you’ve done some things well along the way. I think every game you try to (find) what are a couple things that either we’ve been practicing but haven’t done yet, or is there something that you see on film that maybe you can do something as just a one-off of what you’re doing. All in all, I think players play best when they’re doing things that they know and they’ve done. There’s a real fine line of trying to do something new and doing things that you’ve done well.”

One thing they haven’t done well? Passing the ball. And while Chryst did say quarterback Jack Coan has improved, he knows he’ll have to play his best game of football against Ohio State’s stacked defense if they want to win this game.

“...whether its defensive linemen or linebackers... they’re playing really good defense. There’s no doubt, we didn’t do a great job in the passing game consistently. You have to give credit to the whole defense for what caused that... if we’re going to have success, we’re going to have to do a better job of protection and getting open. All in all we gotta be better.”

Considering, the Badgers held us to 10-7 in the third quarter (before Ohio State scored 28 unanswered points) the Buckeyes need to be better on Saturday as well. They’ll need to pay extra close attention to Taylor, who’s out for blood after his subpar performance in the ‘Shoe.

“I’m very motivated, my team is going to try and lean on me to make plays and I gotta make sure I am ready this week and have a great week of preparation so when my number is called, I am able to go out and execute.”

Senior linebacker Chris Orr— who had six total tackles and one sack against Ohio State— said the Buckeyes’ offense is one of the best they’ve faced this season.

“They did a good job of getting us in deep. They also came up with a new play that we hadn’t seen all year that was specifically designed for us. They just had a really good scheme for us to be honest.

They can do everything really well. They have good players in the right positions. It’s going to come down to all 11 on 11 handling our business.”

If Wisconsin handles their business and upsets Ohio State (the Buckeyes are 16-point favorites) they will rank ahead of Penn State and Minnesota, solidifying their spot in the Rose Bowl.

Our friends at Bucky’s 5th Quarter have unwavering faith in their Badgers to do just that.

While this game will certainly be the biggest challenge of the season, it appears that both the players and coaches are ready and wanting to step up and face the challenge that the Buckeyes bring. They’ve worked hard to get this point, so why not leave it all on the field on Saturday and see’s what happens. Upsets happen all the time, and I believe the Badgers are ready to give it their best shot under the bright lights of Lucas Oil Stadium.

And finally, what other Badgers’ fans are saying: