In the week leading up to the Ohio State-Wisconsin showdown at Camp Randall, I was feeling optimistic. The Buckeyes demolished Indiana for Jim Tressel's 100th OSU victory, gaining the #1 ranking in the process after Alabama lost to South Carolina. My prediction was a 37-17 Ohio State victory.
We all know what happened. The score was not 37-17 and Ohio State did not win. Not only did they lose, they were manhandled. The defensive line, which coordinator Jim Heacock proclaimed would be the best "to ever play at Ohio State," was overwhelmed, surrendering 182 rushing yards, nearly twice their average. Afterwards, I viewed the game as more an Ohio State choke than a Wisconsin win.
After seeing how the season played out, I've revised that stance. It's not like Wisconsin played up to Ohio State that night; they have sustained their level of play and improved. In each of their past three games (Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern), they have rumbled for at least 300 rushing yards.
The Badgers owe this success to their dominant offensive line. Against Michigan at the Big House, they ran the ball 31 straight times—without having to punt. 31. I'm wondering if 'dominant' does them justice.
In a season without a true top-tier team, Wisconsin may just be the best team in the land. Before littering the bottom of this article with angry comments, let me say that I mean no offense to Auburn and Oregon. They have great teams and deserve a national championship bid. However, Wisconsin's line coupled with the three headed hydra of John Clay, James White and Montee Ball would pose huge problems for either team. With their running game, Wisconsin could keep Auburn/Oregon off the field while their defense, though unspectacular, is solid. With this formula, I would be shocked if they failed to beat TCU, their projected Rose Bowl opponent.
Don't underestimate the Badgers. They can play with anyone.