The matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin would have more meaning if the Buckeyes weren't banned from the postseason, but you can bet your bottom dollar that neither one of these teams wants to lose this weekend.
Ohio State will travel to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Badgers at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN2. The Buckeyes are looking to remain undefeated, while Wisconsin is searching to build some type of confidence and consistency heading into the Big Ten Championship.
Last season’s matchup came down to the wire in a thrilling finish, and you shouldn't expect anything different when they meet again.
Here are five players who will have the biggest impact in this week’s Big Ten game of the week.
Stats This Season: 47 tackles, two tackles for loss, 16 broken up passes and two interceptions
Bradley Roby is an athletic corner that should be considered one of the best shutdown players at his position in the country.
He has terrific recovery speed, great size and nearly blankets every unfortunate receiver that is matched up across from him. He will have the task of covering Wisconsin junior Jared Abbrederis, who leads the team with 38 receptions and five touchdowns.
Abbrederis is a big play receiver that has taken 12 of his receptions for 25 yards or more. It will be important for Roby to limit the big plays and make another receiver on this team beat the Buckeyes this Saturday.
Stats This Season: 95 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and one sack
Mike Taylor is tied for fourth in the Big Ten in tackles and leads the Wisconsin team in tackles for loss, as he is the only Badger that has at least ten in that category. He has great instincts on the football field and helps this defense by covering a lot of ground in a hurry.
The senior linebacker will be needed to help slow down a Buckeyes running game that is currently ranked eighth in college football.
Not only is quarterback Braxton Miller a threat to hurt you with his legs, but running back Carlos Hyde is coming off an extremely productive game against Illinois last week (137 rushing yards and three touchdowns).
Stats This Season: 37 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one interception
Linebacker Etienne Sabino will return after missing the last four games due to a broken fibula that required surgery. According to John Kampf of the Morning Journal, players are excited about the senior returning to the lineup.
“He’s one of our key guys at linebacker,” defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins said. “It’s good to have him back. I think he’ll be at full force and be ready.”
Sabino was off to another fabulous start before getting hurt. He will be needed along with the rest of this Buckeyes front seven to load the box and do a solid job of limiting the running game. After all, Wisconsin has run the ball 441 times compared to passing only 212 times.
Ohio State is going to receive a heavy dose of running plays and it has to be ready.
Stats This Season: 1,226 rushing yards, five yards per carry average and 16 rushing touchdowns
After suffering from injuries in the beginning of the season and looking like a shell of himself, Montee Ball has been on a tear lately. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of the last five games, and has scored eight touchdowns in the last four.
Unlike last season, Wisconsin doesn't have much of a passing game to rely on, which is why Ball has received the third most carries in the country (245). It is clear that if Wisconsin plans on having any success on the offensive side of the ball, it all comes down to the senior and how much he can produce.
Ohio State hasn't allowed a team to rush for over 100 yards in the last two games, but that mini streak will be tested this week.
Stats This Season: 1,753 passing yards, 1,166 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns
Braxton Miller has improved his completion percentage from a year ago. He is making much better decisions with the football and he is 13th in the country in rushing yards. The sophomore makes this offense click, and is one of the main reasons the Buckeyes are still undefeated this year.
Wisconsin head coachThe Greenfield Daily Reporter.
He's probably one of the most mobile quarterbacks I've seen in my coaching career, with the combination of what he can also do throwing the football. Bielema said. We've maybe seen some guys that can maybe run better, but nobody that has the dual-threat ability that Braxton has.
Miller has had five games of over 300 total yards and is averaging more than seven yards a play. He will be the difference in this game, and will need to have another big performance if Ohio State plans on winning again.