Wisconsin Badgers Still Have Work To Do

Sam OlesonCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 10:  Ray Small #82 of the Ohio State Buckeyes returns a kickoff 96-yards for a touchdown in the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 31-13.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

This was it. This was supposed to be the game where the Badgers proved they should be in the top 25 instead of being undefeated and still unranked. Hmmm...well I guess the Associated Press knew something that we didn't.

Saturday afternoon showed why Ohio State is in the top 10 and Wisconsin is nowhere to be found in the polls. Although statistically the Badgers dominated the game, the Buckeyes showed that stats never matter, only the score.

Wisconsin outgained OSU 368-184. Scott Tolzien threw for 250 yards compared to Terelle Pryor's 87. The Badgers controlled the ball for 42 minutes. The final score: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 13.

No, Ohio State didn't look like an offensive juggernaut on Saturday. In fact, they haven't all year. Pryor has had modest stats and the loss of Beanie Wells to the NFL really hurt their running game.

Yet it has been their relative consistency and ability to limit mistakes that has put Ohio State in the position to win the Big Ten. Oh, and their defense has been basically immovable. That's helped too.

These are qualities that the Badgers lack and a reason why they aren't yet in the top tier of the Big Ten. Scott Tolzien, who has been steady at quarterback this year, showed his relative inexperience Saturday. Tolzien was only 27-45 and threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

John Clay, fifth in the FBS in yards per game before facing OSU, was limited to 59 yards on 20 carries. The offense in general, averaging 35 points per game, was limited to 13 points. Their only touchdown came off a fake field goal.

The Badgers' defense, which looked to be a real weak spot, actually played a good game against Ohio State. However, special teams again hurt the Badgers. After allowing multiple long kickoff returns against Minnesota last week, they allowed a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Buckeyes.

So yes, it seems the AP was right not having the Badgers in the top 25. Playing their first ranked team of the year showcased Wisconsin's weaknesses. Granted, Ohio State probably has the best defense in the Big Ten. But now we know that Wisconsin isn't the offensive powerhouse they appeared to be in their first five games.

Special teams needs some real work. And their defense, despite playing fairly well against the Bucks, has had it's share of problems this year.

Although Saturday's loss was disappointing, it brought the Badgers back to reality. For them to have success the rest of the Big Ten season, Wisconsin will have to shore up the weaknesses the Buckeyes so kindly exposed.