Ohio State faces their toughest test of the season Saturday as they welcome Big Ten rival Wisconsin Badgers to the Horseshoe. The Buckeyes are coming off a 76-0 blowout win over Florida A&M where backup quarterback Kenny Guiton threw for 215 yards and six touchdowns. Heading into the game head coach Urban Meyer is unsure who will start: junior QB Braxton Miller, who is recovering from a knee injury, or Guiton.
Let's look at some of the trends for Saturday night’s game, as Ohio State looks to prove that they are not only the best team in the Big Ten, but in the country.
Buckeye Quarterback Play
The biggest question heading into the game is who is going to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes. Heading into the season, Braxton Miller was the No.1 QB on the roster and was a Heisman hopeful. However in the second game of the season against San Diego State, Miller hurt his knee and hasn’t played since.
QB controversy in Columbus? The Buckeyes have listed Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton as co-starters.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2013
On Tuesday, however, Meyer said that there is a 90 percent chance that Miller will start against Wisconsin. The decision is not as straightforward as it seems. Guiton is a senior captain and has played exceptionally well in the two games he has started. He has 13 touchdown passes on the year to just two interceptions.
All signs point to Miller taking the opening snap against the Badgers, but don’t be surprised if Guiton gets a couple series and continues to showcase his talents.
How Will Ohio State Stop Wisconsin Running Backs James White and Melvin Gordon?
Wisconsin has two very capable running backs that they will be relying on to upset the Buckeyes. Senior James White is listed as the starter, but so far this year sophomore Melvin Gordon has stolen the show. Through four games, Gordon has rushed for 624 yards and seven touchdowns, with a long of 80 yards.
Wisconsin is the only football team in the country with two top 10 rushers. Melvin Gordon at #1 and James White at #10.— UWMadisonConfessions (@UWConfessions) September 23, 2013
Ohio State’s defense has let up an average of just under 80 yards per game on the ground. If they can hold White and Gordon to under a combined 100 yards, the Buckeyes will win easily. However, if Gordon can use his speed and make plays on the outside, the Badgers will give Ohio State everything it can handle.
Two names to watch out for on defense are junior linebacker Ryan Shazier and sophomore defensive lineman Noah Spence. Both are NFL prospects whose talents will need to be on display Saturday to stop the Wisconsin rushing attack.
Head coach Urban Meyer has yet to lose a game since coming to Columbus in 2012. Last season the Buckeyes went a perfect 12-0, but because of NCAA sanctions were unable to play in a bowl game. This year, Meyer is out to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Ohio State beat Wisconsin in overtime last season, and if they want to prove that they are one of the four elite teams in the country, overtime won’t cut it this year. Ohio State must beat the Badgers convincingly to surpass Clemson or Oregon in the rankings, and it starts with Urban Meyer.
Look for Meyer to be as focused as he’s ever been Saturday night. He knows this is a huge game for Big Ten Championship hopes, but more importantly, national title hopes.