No. 4 Ohio State continues its quest for a national championship on Saturday against No. 23 Wisconsin in Columbus.
Dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller is expected to be back in action for the Buckeyes after suffering a sprained MCL against San Diego State in Week 2 and missing the next two games.
Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton has gone off in Miller's absence, throwing for a combined 491 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception combined against California and Florida A&M.
After a wild loss to Arizona State in Week 3, Wisconsin got back on track against Purdue last week, posting a 41-10 victory in Madison. Sophomore Melvin Gordon rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Gordon ranks first in the nation in rushing yards (624) and is tied for second with seven rushing touchdowns.
Let's take a look at what should be an explosive, action-packed Big Ten showdown on Saturday.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Ohio State -7
Wisconsin Injuries (via USA Today)
Ohio State Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: DT Tommy Schutt (Foot)
Questionable: WR James Clark (Leg), DL Adolphus Washington (Groin)
Probable: QB Braxton Miller (Knee)
Top Storyline: How Will Urban Meyer Manage Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton?
Meyer has a really serious problem on his hands: Should he hand the offense completely over to the reigning Big Ten player of the year or include a quarterback who has earned consecutive Big Ten offensive player of the week honors?
Yeah, life's tough when you're Meyer.
All joking aside, it's going to be very interesting how Meyer manages Miller and Guiton the rest of the way. He doesn't want to disrupt the chemistry Ohio State has built with Guiton, but you also can't ignore the kind of talent Miller is.
In a perfect world, he starts Miller—who picks up right where he left off—and then subs Guiton in and out to keep Miller fresh.
Of course, this isn't a perfect world. Meyer will have to tinker with some options before he ultimately settles on a set game plan.
Top 25 Implication
If the Buckeyes lose this game, their national title hopes will take a serious hit.
On the flip side, if Wisconsin wins it, you can expect the No. 23 Badgers to soar up the AP Top 25 rankings. It would be a monumental victory that would at least ease the pain after Wisconsin's loss to Arizona State.
As Badgers nose guard Beau Allen said, via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com): "Obviously everyone's really fired up about this game. You've got to stay steady, I guess, but we're all fired up for it."
Ohio State emerged with a 21-14 overtime victory over Wisconsin in Madison last year. You can bet the Badgers are aiming to return the favor in Columbus on Saturday.
Prediction: Ohio State 40, Wisconsin 33
The difference in this game will be offensive balance and home-field advantage.
Ohio State has more offensive balance with quarterbacks Miller and Guiton than Wisconsin does with Joel Stave.
The Buckeyes also rank 10th in the nation in yards allowed per carry while yielding just one rushing touchdown this season. They should at least be able to limit Melvin Gordon and Co.
Both Ohio State and Wisconsin can be scored against, as California and Arizona State proved, but the Buckeyes' offense has more variables to defend.
Add the fact that this game is being played in Columbus and the Buckeyes will emerge victorious in my book.
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