Whether or not they want to admit it, I'm thinking there are some Badger fans out there who are worried about how John Clay will perform in the big game this Saturday against Ohio State. Sure, he's put up some gaudy statistics so far this season (692 yards, 6.0 yard per carry average, and 9 touchdowns in 6 games). But from watching him so far this season, you can't help but think he's not playing at his highest level right now. A few culprits seem to be at play; his ankles are probably not 100%, and the often overblown issue of his weight might actually be a real issue. And with James White wowing the fans with his electrifying play, apparently Clay has tried to alter his running style to be more like White even though it's obvious they are two completely different backs. Really, JC?
Although Clay is third in the Big Ten in rushing, too often he has run tentatively, missed holes and tried to bounce runs to the outside. "The thing I try to get John to understand is that's not his game," John Settle said of Clay's tendency to emulate White's style and head for the outside.
Clay is going to have to shed any thoughts of being tentative this weekend if the Badgers are going to find success on the ground. Thankfully, JC has already proven he can run effectively against the Buckeyes. In 2008, Clay's freshman season, he ran for 69 yards on 10 carries against Ohio State, and these highlights from that game show a running back that is doing less thinking and more running (well, two, but fortunately Beanie Wells is in the NFL now). Make sure you look at Clay's hurdle at 7:15 in the video...a thing of beauty.
Clay's 2009 performance against Ohio State was less auspicious. He only managed 59 yards on 20 carries, so he ended up with twice as many carries as 2008 and still didn't get as many yards. His longest run the entire game was 8 yards. He did have a nice run on a 4th and 2 to get a first down, but the Buckeye defense perfectly executed their game plan to shut him down and made the Badgers try to beat them with the passing game.
Wisconsin has a lot of other pressing issues and all-in-all Clay hasn't been terrible this year, but remember that we are talking about the defending Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. We should be expecting great things from him. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that John Clay has saved his best performance for under the lights at Camp Randall this Saturday, because James White can't do it alone.
Barry Alvarez would not have gone for the now-infamous two-point conversion. I wouldn't have either, because honestly what is the difference between a 26 point lead and a 27 point lead with 6 minutes left? The likelihood of Minnesota scoring exactly 3 touchdowns and 2 field goals in that time span is pretty low.
The Buckeyes are really good on the road and Wisconsin is really good at home. J.J. Watt thrives off of the adrenaline created by Jump Around, while Ohio State takes a Navy SEALs approach when they leave the confines of Columbus. Gotta love Big Ten football.
The Daily Cardinal urges students to get to the Ohio State game before kickoff.
Jacob Pedersen could be the number 1 tight end next season, but a bout of homesickness nearly ended his career.
Along the Olentangy analyzes our Wisconsin Badgers. They think a major key will be whether or not Ohio State's defense can cause turnovers, which our offense has been doing an excellent job of avoiding.
Folks, we learn whether or not Wisconsin has a chance to win the Big Ten in only two days. If you aren't amped for this matchup, then let's face it, you aren't a true Badger fan.