A healthy Ricky Wagner makes for a wealthy running game. - Andy Lyons
After being installed as favorites against the undefeated Buckeyes, it's time to explain why this notion isn't as crazy as it seems.
*hits approve and publish*
Oh, I've actually got to explain this? Should have been enough to just say "because." But all right. Man, now I've got to take this post seriously. Time to call in the man of science.
1) Ohio State has a tendency to play down to its competition.
They have a Nebraska, they're rather impressive. But half their schedule has been teams where the players thought they could outskill them. And it turns out they could not. It took a third-quarter endzone interception to beat Central Florida. 3-7 UAB was a score away from taking the lead in the fourth. The about-to-look-for-a-new-head-coach Cal Bears were tied with them down to the wire. The about-to-look-for-a-new-head-coach Purdue Boilermakers were ahead of them. Indiana was an onside kick away from having a chance to shock them.
If common opponents are a part of any thought process, the Badgers have some real points in the algorithm.
2) The Badgers have five good offensive linemen. And they're starting this game.
Now, I know there's an argument that the Badgers played down to their competition, as well. And here's why I disagree with that. The only line that's done well on a consistent basis is Wagner-Groy-Frederick-Costigan-Havenstein. Injuries and the fact that Costigan didn't win the starting job out of camp have limited this line to four full games and parts of two others.
And when this team didn't have this offensive line? This is a team that's a top 50 team. But Ohio State's not going to be so lucky. They're getting our best.
3) The Badgers have a decided defensive advantage.
Okay, Braxton Miller is unfairly good and he will get a big play or two. I get that. But I'm going to beat this point into the ground. The defense has never been the Badgers' problem. I mean, did you know that the Badgers are 13th in defensive points-per-play and 15th in yards-per-play?
This is a real powerful unit. I know Ohio State's averaging about 40 points per game. But Wisconsin's absolutely going to tamp it down. It may be to 17 points, it may be to 28. But the Badgers aren't going to get 40 put up on them.
This series has been rather even since 1999. In fact, the Badgers are the evil Devin Smith away from holding a lead in the series since 1999. Is there a real chance I could be wrong? Absolutely. The BLeez's and Lukezims of the world could give me guff on the twitter after this game.
But I'm putting it out there. The Badgers win. Even though Curt Phillips is going to have to throw more than seven passes to do it.