Last year, Ohio State traveled to Camp Randall in Madison for their first real test since the debilitating loss to USC. Trailing by four points on a nationally televised night game, quarterback Terrelle Pryor drove the Buckeyes down the field and scored on a memorable 11-yard touchdown scamper.
It was the first sign of recovery and gave Buckeye fans hope in the future of their highly touted young quarterback.
The spark of hope ignited during that memorable drive has faded a bit. Pryor hasn't yet reached the lofty expectations Buckeye fans have laid out for him.
He seems hesitant with the ball and hasn't developed into a serious passing threat.
But just like last year, the Wisconsin game could be a spark for the Buckeyes and their quarterback.
Wisconsin comes into the game at an unimpressive 5-0. (Is that even possible?) They haven't beaten anyone, with the exception of Wofford, by more than eight points and their opponents have been far from formidable.
But the fact remains that they are 5-0 and Buckeye fans can appreciate the value of a win even if it didn't come as easy as some felt it should. (Look at the 2002 season.) They are not spectacular at any one aspect of the game, but are solid all around. John Clay, who killed the Buckeyes last year, leads an efficient offense with a speedy Zach Brown.
All that being said, Ohio State is still favored by 16 points.
Ohio State should, and most likely will, win this game. They are clearly the more dangerous and talented team on both sides of the ball. But the way the game plays out makes a huge difference.
This is a chance for the Buckeyes to make a statement. They can show the nation their intentions for the rest of the season.
A big win would indicate a hungry Buckeye team ready to excel into the second half of the season and a lackadaisical victory or loss would look like the years of old.
A big win would not only look good to everyone else, but provide confidence for the players on the team. Wisconsin is easily the second-best team the Buckeyes will have played and a solid performance would go a long way.
I realize Jim Tressel has struggled against Wisconsin and I know a lot of people are saying the game will go down to the wire, but I think the Buckeyes cover the spread.
Ohio State's defense has proven they can shut down a formidable and more talented running game, and Wisconsin's passing game is nothing to get too excited about.
The Buckeye offense is a crap shoot, but if Michigan State can put up 30 and Minnesota 28, then there has to be a few holes in the Badger defense. The superior athletes will find ways to make plays and the Bucks will roll.
Check out the Wisconsin Creature's piece who doesn't think a Buckeye victory is such a sure thing.
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