The Big Ten is a conference capable of presenting star-studded matchups on a weekly basis. That trend continues when No. 2 Ohio State visiting No. 10 Wisconsin in a critical showdown on Saturday evening.
The Buckeyes have dominated their opponents through five games, winning by a combined margin of 266-54, with last week’s 21-point win over a solid Indiana squad serving as perhaps their worst performance of the season. “This is a huge game and a great opportunity for us to do some big things,” Badgers running back Dare Ogunbowale said this week. “Playing at home, playing against the No. 2 team, it’s exciting.” Wisconsin needs to refocus after suffering its first loss, 14-7 at Michigan two weekends ago, although that effort against a top-five opponent didn’t tarnish Urban Meyer’s opinion of the Badgers. “I can push play and see it’s one of the best coached teams in the United States of America,” the Ohio State coach said at his weekly news conference. “Very good players.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC.
WEATHER: Weather could play a factor in this one at Camp Randall Stadium with a chance of developing thunderstorms for Saturday evening and a 20 percent chance of rain at kickoff, increasing to a 75 percent chance of rain after halftime.
LINE HISTORY: The Buckeyes opened the betting week as 10.5-point road favorites and on Friday afternoon that number was the same as the opening figure. The total hit the betting board at 45 and dropped slightly to 44 by the end of the week. View complete line history here.
Ohio State – K S. Nuernberger (Ques Sat, groin), OL K. Feder (Ques Sat, foot), DL T. Sprinkle (Ques Sat, leg), DT M. Barrow (Ques Sat, illness), LB D. Booker (Ques Sat, knee), WR C. Smith (Out Sat, wrist), WR K. Hill (Late Oct, ankle).
Wisconsin – OL M. Kapoi (Prob Sat, leg), OL L. Schmidt (Ques Sat, head), OL J. Dietzen (Ques Sat, leg), CB N. Jamerson (Ques Sat, leg), CB C. Williams (Ques Sat, leg), LB N. Thomas (Ques Sat, leg), WR R. Love (Ques Sat, infection), RB B. Shaw (Ques Sat, shoulder), CB D. Tindal (Ques Sat, hand), DE C. Obasih (Ques Sat, leg), S K. Brookins (Ques Sat, leg), RB T. Deal (Out Sat, ankle), LB V. Biegel (Late Oct, foot).
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Opened this game (Ohio State) -10, it’s up to 10.5. I was really looking at this game a little bit closer, because I’m interested in this Wisconsin team. They’re a really good football team, all around. And I think they’re not being evaluated as high as they should be. They held a Michigan team, who can score at will against anybody, to 14 points, and now Ohio State’s coming to their territory. I think you’re gonna see this one come back down to 10, if not lower, by game time.” – Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports for Wynn Las Vegas.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (4-1 SU, 1-1 Big Ten, 4-1 ATS, 2-3 O/U): Defense is the calling card for the Badgers, who led the nation in points allowed last season (13.7) and have improved that mark to 12.2 in 2016. They have allowed only five offensive touchdowns in five games, thanks in large part to linebacker T.J. Watt (5.5 sacks) and cornerback Derrick Tindal (three interceptions, five pass breakups). Among the issues for Wisconsin in the loss to Michigan was the play of quarterback Alex Hornibrook (9-of-25, 88 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions) and a rushing attack that averaged 2.5 yards per attempt.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (5-0 SU, 2-0 Big Ten, 4-1 ATS, 1-4 O/U): Where to begin with the Buckeyes, who rank second in the nation in scoring defense (10.8) and third in points per game (53.2). Offensively, quarterback J.T. Barrett enters this one having accounted for 86 career touchdowns – two shy of the school record, held by Braxton Miller – and Mike Weber owns a league-best rushing average of 113.2 yards per game. On the defensive side, Ohio State has not given up a rushing touchdown and has forced 12 turnovers, including 10 interceptions.
* Buckeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Badgers are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games following a bye week.
* Under is 7-1 in Buckeyes last 8 conference games.
* Under is 7-1 in Badgers last 8 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 6-0-1 in the last 7 meetings in Wisconsin.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 55 percent of bets are on the home dogs from Wisconsin with 69 percent of totals bets on the Over.