MADISON, Wis. - Saying the Ohio State Buckeyes had a rough offseason is probably an understatement. Allegations of players receiving improper benefits flew around the program, eventually resulting in suspensions of a few key players. Head coach Jim Tressell resigned after failing to comply properly with NCAA guidelines, and starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor jumped ship to the NFL, where he now plays for the Oakland Raiders.
The 2011 season has been bumpy as well. The Buckeyes lost to Miami and Nebraska on the road, Michigan State at home, and have a rookie head coach in Luke Fickell. But does that mean the Badgers feel comfortable walking into Columbus this Saturday? Both the short and long answers are "no."
"You know what Ohio State has," center Peter Konz said Tuesday. "And it seems like people overlook it just because maybe they're young, or they've had whatever problems, but at the end of the day you know the guys that were there last year are still there."
To senior safety Aaron Henry, this year's script sounds oddly familiar.
"I can remember a couple years back where people were saying Ohio State wasn't as good as [in] prior years, and every year we go in there, especially at their house, Ohio State is going to be good regardless," Aaron Henry said. "They have a really good team, they have a really good coaching staff, and their skill position players are always going to be these guys who [are] freakishly, freakishly gifted. They're going to come to play, you can believe that."
Henry's fellow safety, Shelton Johnson feels the same way- Ohio State's overall record doesn't matter. The Buckeyes can still find ways to beat other teams.
"Even though they might be 4-3 right now they're still a good team," Johnson said. "It's still Ohio State. Even though they might be 4-3, a few plays here and a few plays there and they might be undefeated."
Konz mentioned the Badgers would need to keep the Buckeyes suppressed on Saturday if they want to win, and that the Badgers can't walk into the Horseshoe thinking they automatically have the upper hand over their division rivals.
"You know that if they just turn it on once they can keep it that way," Konz said. "We're talking about - what were they - six straight Big Ten champions? How could you ever think that you could just walk in as a favorite, in Columbus nonetheless? I just have too much respect for it to think that we have the upper hand."
News and Notes
-- It seems like there's been an explosion of uniform variations and throwbacks across college football this season. Ohio State is planning on wearing throwback Nike Pro Combat uniforms this Saturday, in order to honor their undefeated 1961 season.
But Badger fans shouldn't get their hopes up for any throwback uniforms or special variations on Wisconsin's part.
"We're very traditional. We do what we do," Aaron Henry said. "We're very traditional. We've got the new gloves with the ‘W' on them - [but] we had to beg for those. That's just Wisconsin."
"The people that do come here are generally sold on the program itself. Not just ‘Oh man, I like those uniforms.' We know what we're going to wear every single Saturday. It's either the red tops or the white tops. Every blue moon, maybe red pants. That's what we do."
Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Badger Football news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter (@JohnVeldhuis).