Game of the Week Preview: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Huge Big Ten battle when the Buckeyes travel to Madison to play the Badgers at the always difficult Camp Randall Stadium, where Wisconsin is 40-4 since 2004. There are many critics of the new #1 team in the country, claiming Ohio State has yet to play any team of substance (Miami now out of the top #25) and have only played one game away from Columbus (Illinois, where they struggled for most of the game). This will be the Buckeyes toughest test to date and they will go against a solid, experienced, senior led Badger team that once again is built on its strong running game, averaging 290 yards per game (16th nationally). This is also a game that means a lot to the Badgers as they are still recovering from their loss to the Spartans two weeks ago in East Lansing. One more loss for the Badgers and they can pretty much kiss their dreams of a Big Ten Championship away.
Prospects I will be watching
Gabe Carimi, one of the highest ranked offensive linemen coming into the 2011 draft. He plays LT but I think his more natural position, and the position he will thrive at on the next level, is at RT. My concerns about him are mainly his foot speed and his balance on pass protection. Against speed rushers, he lacks the quickness to mirror and keep his body in front of defenders when he is unable to get his hands on them. As a result, he becomes leggy and off-balanced. However, in the run game he is an absolute beast and has that streak of nastiness that you want every offensive lineman to have. I will be watching to see if he has been able to clean up his footwork and technique going against one of the better DE’s in the country in Cameron Heywerd.
Cameron Heywerd, one of the top 2 or 3 DE’s in a loaded defensive linemen class. A well rounded DE, who can play the run or the pass, however lacks technique at both. As a pass rusher, he has a good first step and at times does a nice job of pressing the edge, but he is not dynamic and if he does not initially get by the block, he lacks the ability to recover. Against the run, he anchors well, can take on double teams and demonstrates the ability to shed blocks. I will be watching to see whether he is developing technique and dynamism as a pass rusher, and his run/pass recognition skills. Against the run, I want to see him get into the backfield and create some havoc. This will be a great week to see Heywerd go up against stiff competition in Carimi.
Terrelle Pryor, currently a front runner for the Heisman, he is having his best year to date and is coming off the best passing performance of his career against Indiana last week. There is a lot of discussion about whether or not he can be a QB on the next level and while he seems to have all the physical skills (arm, feet, size, strength), it’s the intangibles and mental part of the game (accuracy, football IQ, instincts, leadership) that people have questions about. I will have my eye on his accuracy, his ball placement and how he leads his receivers, his pocket presence and how well he does in crunch time. I am hoping the Badgers will provide some moments where Pryor is put to the test.
Pryor is going to get his passing yards against a questionable Wisconsin pass defense. The Badgers will have to focus on not giving up the big play, where Pryor has gotten many of his passing yards this year. Offensively, Wisconsin is going to have to play to their strengths, don’t turn the ball over, run the ball effectively and pass on play action. The game will be low scoring with Pryor making a few good plays but ultimately committing some costly turnovers. Wisconsin plays conservative throughout with a bend but don’t break defense and is able to capitalize on Buckeye turnovers to pull the upset in a game that means more to the Badgers then the Buckeyes.
Badgers 20, Buckeyes 17.