Saturday night (Nov. 17) will be the toughest test for the Ohio State Buckeyes this season. With a perfect season hanging in the balance, the Buckeyes head to Camp Randall Stadium to play a Wisconsin team that has lost three games by a combined total of nine points.
Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. These three will need to make those plays for the Buckeyes to survive.
Carlos Hyde, RB
Carlos Hyde doesn't need to perform quite like he did against Illinois, although that would be great news for Buckeyes fans, but he does need to be effective in the red zone. Hyde has recorded 13 touchdowns on the season, posting three last week.
The junior running back will need to fight and scratch and claw for every yard he receives on Saturday. Wisconsin's defense is no joke, and it has kept the Badgers in every game this season.
With three losses on their resume, the Badgers are putting all of their eggs in one basket for this Big Ten brawl. Hyde and the rest of the Buckeyes offense better come prepared to fight for every yard.
Hyde's ability in the rushing attack also takes the load off of Braxton Miller, who is normally the go-to guy in the rushing game as well as through the air. Any help he can receive is a plus, and Hyde has been that guy this season.
Braxton Miller, QB
The go-to guy. Virtually the entire offense.
Braxton Miller has recorded 27 touchdowns this season, 14 through the air and 13 on the ground. He has already recorded 1,166 yards rushing and is close to eclipsing the 2,000-yard passing mark.
It's been a glorious year for Miller, Urban Meyer, the offense and Ohio State fans, because this is what you can expect for the next two seasons. He's only going to get better.
Miller runs the show from the quarterback position, and he hasn't disappointed this season. However, he and the Buckeyes have had their struggles on the road this year. Two of their three road victories were won by a combined four points.
One of those games was at Indiana, a team that put up 49 points on the Buckeyes defense. The Hoosiers are just 4-5 this season.
Miller needs to bring his A-game if the Buckeyes have any chance of coming out with a victory.
Devin Smith, WR
Devin Smith only has 24 receptions this season, but six have been of the touchdown variety. He has been the big-play guy for the Buckeyes all season long, averaging 21.4 yards per reception.
When the Buckeyes need a big play in the passing game, he generally comes up with the catch. Smith and the offense need to put him in positions to succeed by taking a shots down the field.
For one, that will open up more room for Miller and Hyde to operate in the rushing attack. Secondly, he has proven that he can make the big play when called upon.
Ohio State is facing its toughest challenge this season. With only a perfect season to play for, this is the most pressure the Buckeyes have faced this year.
Expect this game to come down to the wire, but if Ohio State can receive great performances from the three aforementioned players, the Buckeyes will come out on top.