Every day for the entirety of the Ohio State football season, we will be asking and answering questions about the team, college football, and anything else on our collective minds of varying degrees of importance. If you have a question that you would like to ask, you can tweet us @LandGrant33 or if you need more than 280 characters, send an email HERE.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.
Question 1: Which offensive player other than C.J. Stroud will have the best game?
Ohio State fans are a lot of things (and many of them not especially flattering), but they are smart and know their football. I think if we had asked this question before the first three weeks of the season, TreVeyon Henderson would have been much higher on the list, but given his departure from last Saturday's game against Toledo and head coach Ryan Day’s hesitance to say that he would be back tonight against Wisconsin, I think that having him pretty low on this list is a good move; if you made me guess, I actually think he’s closer to not playing than being the standout offensive player of the game.
For similar reasons, I am a bit surprised that so many folks went with Jaxon Smith-Njigba at the top. While all indications are that the country’s best wide receiver will be ready to go tonight, given his limited availability so far this season, I thought people would be a bit more reticent to select him as the top pick. What is so interesting about this receiving corps though is that there are so many No. 1s on the team, it is impossible to stop them all. So, even if the Badgers focus on JSN, Emeka, Big Marv, Julian, and even Cade Stover could go off for big games catching the ball.
In the survey article, I said that I would probably go with Julian Fleming, given that so much attention would be paid to the other receivers, but I also want to throw some love behind Miyan Williams. During his press conference on Tuesday, Day talked about how physical the Badgers were and how important it was to play tough in the Big Ten. I get the feeling that if Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard devices a plan to try and limit C.J. Stroud’s ability to connect with his receivers at will (and let’s be honest, even a great DC like Leonhard can’t really stop Stroud and these WRs), that will open up opportunities for Day to establish the run. And, if Henderson is out or limited, as I suspect he will be, that means that
Bowling Ball Wrecking Ball Meat Ball PorkChop will have ample opportunities to put up numbers.
Question 2: Which defensive player will have the best game?
(blame the graphic designer for including Stroud in the question on the image)
I think the people were very smart in this one as well, assuming Mike Hall is healthy, he and Tommy Eichenberg up the middle of the defense could have big days against Wisconsin’s run-focused offense. While the Badgers are currently 47th in the country in passing offense, against their lone Power 5 opponent on the young season, quarterback Graham Mertz threw for just 227 yards on 18 of 31 (58.1%) passing for 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in UW’s 17-12 loss to Washington State in Week 2.
While I think that Wisconsin would be wise to attempt to exploit OSU’s thin and underperforming cornerbacks, I’m just not sure that the Badgers have the weapons or offensive line to hold up in a full-game passing attack.
So, I think that Hall at tackle and Eichenberg at linebacker make a lot of sense to pick here, especially since I don’t imagine that the latter will leave the field very often. My pick for this question from earlier in the week was actually right in line with these top two, but a bit more of a wild card.
I went with hybrid linebacker/safety Kourt Williams. The man without a position did not get any defensive snaps against Notre Dame — the closest offensive parallel for Wisconsin that the Buckeyes have faced this season, but given that he is built as a linebacker, he would be a good candidate to step up from the safety position and provide an additional body in run support.
While we haven’t seen Williams truly find a spot in Jim Knowles’ new 4-2-5 defense, today would be a great opportunity to see what this wildly talented player can do against a physical, ground-and-pound offense.
Question 3: What will be the final score for the OSU vs. Wisconsin game?
On the podcast this morning, I went with 42-17, so that is my official pick. However, that total has ballooned a bit as the week has gone on for a number of reasons. When I joined our friends at the SB Nation Wisconsin blog Bucky’s 5th Quarter for their podcast, I went with 35-2o (but reserved the right to change my mind).
The more I dove into the Badgers through the first three games, and the more we heard about OSU’s injury situation (not that I ever put too much credence into what Day says on the topic), I became a bit more confident in the Buckeyes’ ability to score. So, when I did a written Q&A for B5Q later in the week, I went with 42-20.
Then when I recorded the podcast, I guess I got a little more feisty about the defense’s ability to prevent Wisconsin from moving the ball, so I shaved a field goal off of my prediction.
Ultimately, I think this one plays out a lot like other OSU vs. Wisconsin games: The Badgers play tough and their defense gets some stops early, but the Buckeyes’ offense is just too much to keep contained and I can’t imagine a world in which Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz can keep up with the scoring output from OSU.
So, it looks like I am with the majority of fans on this one, calling for a 3+ touchdown victory for the Buckeyes!