Ohio State Football: Buckeyes to Watch vs. Wisconsin Badgers

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Ohio State Football: Buckeyes to Watch vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

While Ohio State isn't eligible for the postseason, the Buckeyes are still playing for pride this season and they currently hold a two-game lead in the Big Ten Leaders division over Wisconsin with two games to go.

However, a loss to Wisconsin, and a loss to Michigan at the Big House, could change everything.

The 10-0 Buckeyes head into Madison on Saturday boasting a dynamic rushing attack, but the Badgers have a dynamic rushing attack of their own.

Here are the Buckeyes to watch in Saturday's Big Ten clash.

 

Braxton Miller, QB

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Wisconsin will have its hands full with Braxton Miller. The sophomore, who has rushed for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns, may only be rivaled by Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel in terms of dual-threat quarterbacks running the pigskin this season.

Wisconsin has allowed 3.37 yards per carry (23rd in the nation, per CFBStats.com) and five rushing touchdowns this season, but the Badgers did have problems against Nebraska dual-threat Taylor Martinez, who rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown against them on Sept. 29.

 

Ryan Shazier, LB

Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Sophomore Ryan Shazier has been huge for the Buckeyes this season, particularly with senior Etienne Sabino out since breaking his leg in the Oct. 6 game against Nebraska.

Shazier has racked up a combined 34 tackles in his past three games against Illinois, Penn State and Purdue. That includes an interception for a touchdown against the Nittany Lions.

Even with Sabino expected back this week, Shazier will still have a vital role in trying to stop Wisconsin's rushing attack.

 

Etienne Sabino, LB

Photo Credit: David Dermer/Getty Images

Sabino's impact in the early going cannot be overstated. 

Before breaking his leg against Nebraska, Sabino played a big part in Ohio State's 17-16 victory over Michigan State on Sept. 29. The senior posted eight tackles, including one tackle for loss, against the Spartans while Le'Veon Bell was held to 45 yards on 17 carries. He also added a sack and two quarterback hurries during that game.

Manning the inside linebacker position on Saturday, Sabino will be critical against a Wisconsin blocking scheme that likes to put pressure on the second level of the defense.

 

Devin Smith, WR

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

When a defense stacks the box, which Wisconsin is likely to do against Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes' rushing attack on Saturday, it opens up the potential to make big plays through the air.

Devin Smith—not to be confused with Wisconsin's fifth-year senior cornerback—has racked up 514 receiving yards and six touchdowns on just 24 catches this season, an average of 21.4 yards per reception (fourth in the country).

There is no question Smith is the guy the Buckeyes go to when they want to stretch the defense. This was exemplified when he went 63 yards for a touchdown against Michigan State, a team known for focusing on stopping the run this season.

Did I mention Miller hooked up with Smith for a game-winning 40-yard touchdown in the final seconds against the Badgers last season?

 

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