2022 Game Preview: Ohio State vs Wisconsin
Ohio State starts their Big Ten play part of the season against Wisconsin, and the environment for the match-up couldn’t be bigger. The Buckeyes will wear all black against Wisconsin for their “Blackout Game.” The last time Ohio State wore black alternate uniforms was in a 2019 win against the Michigan State Spartans. The Buckeyes are 3-0 when they wear black entering Saturday, beating the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2015, the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2018 and the Spartans. Fans have been encouraged to wear black to “The Shoe.”
This is also the 3rd primetime game this season, and second game in a row, and have the best commentators ESPN has to offer. This might be the last game Kirk Herbstreit calls a game in the Horseshoe with the need media deal which takes effect next year, and ESPN will not be a part of it.
I didn’t share the trailer last week, but this week with Cade Stover narrating I think deserves to be shared:
𝐜𝐡.𝐈𝐕 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 🎥🔥🍿 pic.twitter.com/pzgottWvmF— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) September 22, 2022
This game is a great opportunity for the Buckeyes to get some separation. This will give them a good chance to solidify themselves as a national title contender, it will show if all of their offseason preparation on being a tough team will show, and could help CJ Stroud with his Heisman campaign.
Know the Opponent:
Head Coach: Paul Chryst (8th season)
2022 Record: 2-1
Location: Madison, WI
Conference: Big Ten
Ohio State Preview
After an explosive game last week against Toledo, the Buckeyes jumped up to the top offense in the country, averaging 565.3 yards a game. Their defense finally forced a turnover, getting 2 total, in their third game of the season, and are looking to get more this week. The Buckeyes stayed steady in the polls as they are the 3rd ranked team in the country for the second straight week in both the AP and coaches poll, and are still favored by double digits in all of their remaining games, including the season finale showdown against undefeated Michigan.
According to Ryan Day, this will be the best quarterback and running back the Buckeyes have played so far, and if we are looking forward, this game might be the most challenge game until the Buckeyes play against Penn State on the road.
The Buckeyes know they are going against a solid team this week, and their toughness will be challenged.
“When you get into Big Ten play, it’s a line-of-scrimmage league, it’s a tough league,” Kevin Wilson said. “It wears on you week after week after week. We’re starting with a big challenge with a great line-of-scrimmage team on both sides coming up when Wisconsin walks into the ‘Shoe.”
CJ Stroud, who is the Heisman favorite after three weeks, has a huge opportunity in the national stage in a primetime match up to help solidify his position and maybe even put a little separation against the field. Stroud has passed for 941 yards with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He has shown that he can move around, and has avoided sacks by scrambling out of the pocket and connecting with his receivers down the field, a lot of those throws with sideline passes that have showcased the athleticism of the talented receivers.
Miyan Williams is the leading running back, partially due to the injuries this year for TreVeyon Henderson. Williams has 207 yards on the ground with 1 touchdown, and has 3 receptions for 23 yards. Henderson has rushed for 197 yards on 29 carries and 3 rushing touchdowns. Dallan Hayden had a huge game last week, and has 121 yards and 1 touchdown on 21 carries this season in place on an injured Evan Pryor.
Marvin Harrison Jr leads the receiver room with 18 catches for 342 yards and 5 touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka has been consistent every game, and has 20 catches for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns. The biggest surprise is that Cade Stover is the third leading receiver with 137 yards on 8 catches. The Buckeyes are trying to get him a touchdown, and this game might be his chance to do so. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is expected to play more this game after only playing a few series against Toledo, and he wasn’t needed to make plays in that game, but hopefully that game was able to help him get ready for this week.
Wisconsin enters this game with a 2-1 record, with their one loss against Washington State at home. Wisconsin had more total yards, first downs, and won the time of possession battle, but the Badgers couldn’t hold onto the ball and had 11 penalties. It was as un-characteristic for the Badgers, and it ended up costing them the game against an opponent they were favored to beat by 17 points. Does this game provide the Buckeyes a blue print on how to beat the Badgers?
Wisconsin rebounded the following week and put on an offensive clinic against an overmatched New Mexico State team, scoring 66 points, and holding the Aggies to only 7 points. This was a game that will help them get some confidence because they know that they will need to keep pace with the Buckeyes incase this game turns into a shoot out. The best thing they can do in this game is to keep the ball away from the Buckeyes, and keep the ball on the ground to not give Ohio State extra possessions with turnovers.
The Badgers still tough will compete for a very open Big Ten West, and even with a loss to the Buckeyes, they can control their destiny if they win out the rest of the way, with their cross over games again Michigan State and Maryland who could be beatable.
Graham Mertz has passed for 697 yards through 3 games, and has 6 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, passing for 71% completion rate. He has not made plays on the ground, and has been sacked 4 times already, so he will have to maneuver in the pocket to keep plays alive against an aggressive Buckeye front 7.
Braelon Allen is a solid running back, and has had a good start to his season. He is competing with TreVeyon Henderson, Mo Ibraham of Minnesota, and Nick Singleton of Penn State for the top running back in the Big Ten this years. He has 332 rushing yards on 50 carries, and 5 touchdowns. Behind him is Chez Mellusi, who has 163 yards on 35 carries and 1 touchdown. Isaac Guerendo is the third running back in the rotation with 91 yards on 17 carries, and 3 touchdowns.
The top target for Mertz is Chimere Dike who has 172 yards on 9 catches for 1 touchdown. Skyler Bell has 8 catches for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. The third top target is tight-end Clay Cundriff who has 8 catches for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. No other receiver has more than 4 catches.
The Badger defense was statistically the top defense in 2021, and under Jim Leonhard they are only giving up 8 points a game, and 246 yards. They have 7 players who have an interception.
TreVeyon Henderson. The start of the season has probably not gone the way Henderson wanted due to some minor injuries, and he has not been needed to play a complete game since the week 1 matchup against Notre Dame. Miyan Williams has been a great running back, but Henderson will need to be patient and make plays with his legs to make the run game balance out the passing attack, which Ohio State will open up due to several key secondary member out for this game for the Badgers.
Graham Mertz. As good as Braelon Allen is, this game will be dictated by how well Mertz is able to attack the secondary of Ohio State. He has made a step up from last season, and is a player Ryan Day really wanted, but the game plan for the Buckeyes will be stoping the run, and forcing Mertz to make plays.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game
8. The Buckeyes have won 8 straight game against the Badgers, starting with the dramatic win against Wisconsin in 2011. During that span, the Buckeyes have outscored Wisconsin 273 to 139 points, with an average score of 34 to 17.
The Buckeyes open up conference play against a solid Wisconsin team, who is coming off a 66 point game against New Mexico State. The Badgers will have to rely on their defense behind defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard that is only giving up 8 points a game. They Buckeyes will have their hand full with trying to slow down Braelon Allen, who has 332 yards rushing already this year. The Buckeyes should have everyone back on offense for this game after getting TreVeyon Henderson some rest, and an arsenal of wide-receivers that Badgers will have to worry about. The Badgers will get a few plays, but the Buckeyes will come out with the win.
Ohio State 45 – Wisconsin 14
Photo Credit: OhioStateBuckeyes.com