November 16, 2012

Tale of the Tape: Wisconsin

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

Head Coach:

Bret Bielema

2011 Record:

11-3 - Big Ten


Madison (Wis.)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EDT Television: ABC/ESPN2 Location: Camp Randall Stadium (80,321)

When Wisconsin has the ball...

  • Rushing Defense: 107.90 Ypg. (16th)

  • Passing Defense: 259.70 Ypg. (97th)

  • Scoring Defense: 23.90 Ppg. (T-41st)
  • Rushing Offense: 218.80 Ypg. (17th)

  • Passing Offense: 166.80 Ypg. (108th)

  • Scoring Offense: 29.50 Ppg. (58th)

  • Ohio State Defensive Backs

    Wisconsin Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)
    Ohio State's pass defense gave up 230 yards and two touchdowns against Purdue but 83 yards and a score came on the first play of the game where it appeared that one of the safeties picked the wrong guy and left the Purdue offensive player alone with only a linebacker in coverage. Turning the page to Saturday, Bradley Roby and the Buckeyes will be looking to try and turn over the PSU passing game. The Buckeyes have had a lot of success in past years in shifting momentum with a big interception. Travis Howard is still among league leaders in INTs despite not recording a pick since week two of the season. C.J. Barnett will need to be more than a big hitter going against a Wisconsin team that utilizes the tight end position better than almost any team in the nation. Orhian Johnson could see a lot of action at the nickel spot if Wisconsin abandons the run. In the past three (all Big Ten) games Matt McGloin has passed for 782 yards and five touchdowns as the Wisconsin offense is starting to find its way. Wisconsin's offense has been running north of 70 plays for the last four games and more than 90 in the two most recent games. The main threat for PSU on offense is Allen Robinson who has eight receiving touchdowns (of 14 by the team) and 563 yards receiving. Tight end Kyle Carter is second in the team with 29 catches but Wisconsin has seven receivers/tight ends with double-digit receptions. Don't be shocked to see Wisconsin have three tight ends on the field at a time and that creates some matchup issues, especially for a poor tackling team like Ohio State. Wisconsin will try and move the chains in small steps but it has been highly successful over the last month.

    Ohio State Linebackers

    Wisconsin Running Backs
    Ohio State's run defense performed well against Purdue and allowed 117 yards on 39 carries and shut down the Boilers late when a first down would have all but put the game away. Ryan Shazier will be playing with a heavy heart as he honors a friend who lost his battle to illness and Shazier looks to change his jersey number from 10 to No. 48 (as of time of publishing, the status was up in the air) Zach Boren is now entering week three as a linebacker after moving over from the offensive side of the ball. We are not sure what Wisconsin's plans are for personnel in this game but you would think that Ohio State would be playing a good amount of nickel. Storm Klein and Josh Perry will both see action but will be the first linebacker off the field when Ohio State switches its personnel package. Going back through the numbers, Ohio State's run defense has been solid in three of the last four games (all league games) but with the woes of the scoring defense that has been overshadowed in the big picture. Wisconsin has a trio of backs that have seen significant time this season with Bill Belton, Zach Zwinak and Michael Zordich. Belton saw the most action in the most recent game after returning from a three game absence in the non-conference schedule. Belton went for 103 yards against Iowa on 16 carries for his first career 100-yard game. Zwinak had a pair of 100-yard games in the Illinois and Northwestern games. Wisconsin does not run for a high average per carry but will keep slamming forward hoping to break a big play. Wisconsin's longest run from scrimmage has been from 25 yards this season. For now it appears that Wisconsin's run game is there to try and keep defenses honest so it can load up for the pass. I wouldn't expect Wisconsin to have much success running the ball against the Buckeyes but that doesn't mean the Lions will give up on it to set up the pass.

    Ohio State Defensive Line

    Wisconsin Offensive Line
    Ohio State's defensive line has been an enigma this season. But is that based upon play or the plans that are called. When Ohio State is able to pin its ears back and go at the quarterback, good things have happened. When Ohio State rushes three and drops eight, not so much. John Simon and his linemates will be called upon to go into a hostile building and rattle a senior quarterback in McGloin. Johnathan Hankins still continues to be a force from the interior line but the Buckeyes need to see more out of Michael Bennett when he rotates in. Nathan Williams has been freed up to play some linebacker with the emergence of Noah Spence and the staff feels good having both players on the field at the same time when the situation dictates that. If Wisconsin is able to run north of 80 plays it will be a must for the coaching staff to roll more than 5-6 defensive linemen in and out, will the staff feel comfortable enough to do that in a game that could be a short possession ground war? Wisconsin's offensive line is 300-pounds plus across the board and made up of three seniors from center on over to right tackle. Left tackle Donovan Smith is a R-Fr. and will be challenged as the Buckeyes try and find a point of attack to get into the backfield. Wisconsin is in the top-25 of Division I (FBS) in sacks allowed, only allowing 1.14 sacks per game but the Nittany Lions did get roughed up against Illinois. As for run blocking, the line has been able to open up some holes for its running backs but will be going against a much more formidable run defense with the Buckeyes and a line that has been playing well as of late against the run. Ultimately this battle will be determined by the plan that the defensive staff has for Ohio State. This line is more than good enough to hold off Ohio State if its sends three or four, but if the Buckeyes roll the dice and blitz, then things could get to be interesting.

    When Ohio State has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 256.10 Ypg. (8th)

  • Passing Offense: 189.20 Ypg. (T-98th)

  • Scoring Offense: 39.90 Ppg. (12th)
  • Rushing Defense: 103.40 Ypg. (13th)

  • Passing Defense: 206.20 Ypg. (34th)

  • Scoring Defense: 17.20 Ppg. (12th)

  • Ohio State Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)

    Wisconsin Defensive Backs
    Will Braxton Miller be able to go this weekend? It appears so. Will he be 'Braxton Miller-like' however? We don't know that for sure. Will Miller be the runner that he has been in the past eight games? Will the staff left him run the way he has run in past games? The Buckeyes better have a 'Plan B' ready for either Miller passing or handing the ball off to No.'s 34 and 2 to keep the signal caller healthy and in the game for the duration. The Buckeyes have proven that they can still move the ball with Kenny Guiton under center but three series and a whole game are two different stories. Corey Brown continues to be the best option for moving the chains with Devin Smith as the deep threat but it has been feast or famine with Smith who can make the spectacular happen and then lose focus and drop an easy one. A lot has been made of Wisconsin's tight ends but Ohio State's tight ends will play a huge role here too. Will Jake Stoneburner be more than a blocker this time around and can Miller (or Guiton) find Jeff Heuerman or Nick Vannett for huge gains? We have to call this one a tossup because we don't know how the Ohio State quarterback position is going to shape up. Wisconsin has been better against the run than against the pass but the pass defense has been pretty good on its own merits. PSU held both Iowa and Northwestern to less than 200 yards passing a piece and held each to just one passing touchdown. With that being said, neither of those teams have a dual-threat quarterback like Ohio State and the last time PSU went against an upper-tier dual threat QB, the Ohio Bobcats pulled off the stunner as Tyler Tettleton passed for more than 300 yards and had 47 key rushing yards. (Nobody is going to expect Miller to throw for 300 but he should be able to run for more than 47). Stephon Morris has been a mainstay of the PSU secondary and is joined by Adrian Amos at the corner spot. In a 'Did You Know' moment, the PSU secondary has none of the team's six INTs.

    Ohio State Running Backs

    Wisconsin Linebackers
    Ohio State is going to need the running game to carry it this weekend if it wants to leave State College with a win. Carlos Hyde reportedly is not 100-percent, at least during the week of practice but is going to be the main weapon on Saturday. Last time Hyde faced the Nits he had four carries for 24 yards as Boom Herron carried the load at running back. This time it will be on Hyde with Rod Smith looking to back him up. You can't talk about running the ball for Ohio State without bringing up Miller but it remains to be seen how effective he will be as a runner and how much the staff will let him run. Granted, most of Miller's runs are not be design so the staff can only protect him so much and not allowing Miller to be Miller has not worked in the past. The last time Ohio State went against a tough run defense (Michigan State) Hyde was held in check for 49 yards on 11 carries. The Buckeyes will be bringing a different game plan into this one and expect Hyde to have 11 carries in the 1st quarter rather than the whole game. Wisconsin is known for having great run defense and it is pretty good this year to date. Sure, playing Navy never helps your run defense when all that team does is run the ball but there have been plenty of teams that have been held well under their average when going against the Nittany Lions. Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are both All-Conference level linebackers and MLB Glenn Carson is coming into his own. But let's face it, this defense is not the '85 Bears and teams have been able to find the end zone against it. That doesn't mean that Ohio State will be able to solve it but with that being said this is not a game that one team will be held to 10 points or be a game where one defense steps up and totally stymies the other team. Wisconsin's defense knows what the Ohio State offense is all about, now the question is who will be able to execute better than the other.

    Ohio State
    Offensive Line

    Defensive Line
    Ohio State's offensive line has continued to play solid and consistent football through the first eight games. A lot of pressure will be on center Corey Linsley with the silent count at Wisconsin with 110,000-plus fans screaming and clapping and trying to disrupt the Ohio State offense. The Buckeye line has obviously had a great amount of success in run blocking and it is that much more difficult to block for a quarterback who extends plays in Miller. There will be added pressure on the interior line (Linsley, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell) to deal with the size of Wisconsin's defensive tackles as they try and come up the gut to hit Hyde before he can reach the line of scrimmage.

    Wisconsin has another solid defensive line and Deion Barnes is the most disruptive lineman in regards to sacks while defensive tackle DaQuan Jones is a load at 324 pounds and Jordan Hill is no slouch at 292 pounds. The great thing about Wisconsin's defensive line (if you are a PSU fan) is that there are not just one or two big players and then a bunch of warm bodies. Wisconsin can go deep into a rotation to keep fresh bodies out on the field. As mentioned before however, Wisconsin has struggled in the past against mobile QBs and the Buckeyes have one who can move, but will he be able to move?

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 35.34 Avg. (94th)

  • Punt Returns: 9.05 Yds/Ret (54th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 20.68 Avg. (75th)

  • Field Goals: 67% 4-6
  • Net Punting: 37.96 Avg. (43rd)

  • Punt Returns: 10.20 Yds/Ret (36th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 19.60 Avg. (87th)

  • Field Goals: 67% 10-15

  • Ohio State Special Teams

    Wisconsin Special Teams
    Are there any healthy Piranhas left for the Buckeyes? Ben Buchanan will need to bring a big leg to this game because it doesn't appear that it will be another Big Ten class 50-49 type of game on Saturday night, especially if the rain starts to move in. Ultimately the Ohio State special teams have not been bad but they have not had a lot of 'head turning' plays and that has maybe soured the view of fans when it comes to the plays of the team.

    Wisconsin wishes it had Ohio State's perceived problems on special teams. The Lions can't kick field goals, punting is last in Division I (FBS), KO returns are in the bottom grouping and punt returns are not much better. There is going to be some extra juice playing at home but for now the units have been playing well below their capabilities.


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