Phil Steele puts out the best college football preview magazine every year. It’s not even a contest. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of his first publication we at Bucky’s 5th Quarter are going to find four interesting facts about each team on Wisconsin’s schedule, including the Badgers, and break them down for you.
Phil, we love your magazine and we also love your mustache.
NUMBER 1: 17
The Buckeyes return 17 of their top 20 tacklers from last season and one of the players they lost was Nick Bosa who only played three games before sitting out the rest of the year with an injury. Statistically speaking (points and yards per game), 2018 was the worst Ohio State defense of the past seven years but with basically the entire two deep coming back they should drastically improve and be one of the best units in the conference.
NUMBER 2: 4
This is the number of “close wins” that the Buckeyes had last season, tied for the most in the country with Texas and Notre Dame. Steele defines a “close win” as a win by “a touchdown or less, however if there is a late misleading score, I will either include or exclude it accordingly.” OSU had zero “close losses” and so their “net close wins” is also at four. Steele goes on to say: “Teams that had three or more net close wins the previous year have seen their record either stay the same or get weaker in 192 of 243 cases (79%), including 35-11-2 from 2015-2018.” This data set includes the past 18 seasons so no small sample size here.
They beat Penn State and Maryland (in OT no less) by one point and Nebraska and Washington by five. While they obviously still get credit for winning these games it is unlikely they’ll be so lucky in consecutive seasons. The last time Wisconsin played Ohio State (2017 B1G Championship Game) the Badgers lost by six and the last time UW played in Columbus they lost by seven. Eventually Wisconsin has to break through...right?
NUMBER 3: 1
There will be one new starting quarterback for Ohio State this year and the presumptive favorite is Georgia transfer Justin Fields. Fields, a five-star prospect (No. 2 in the nation in 2018 behind Trevor Lawrence) out of Kennesaw, Ga., played a bit for UGA as a freshman but was going to be the backup to Jake Fromm moving forward. He will be eligible to play immediately due to the extenuating circumstances surround his transfer, which I didn’t know until I read this article. A Georgia baseball player said some racist stuff about him and Fields’ attorney successfully argued that he should be allowed to play right away.
On the field, Fields is a special player and a threat with both his arms and his legs. He’ll bring an escapability that Dwayne Haskins didn’t have but will assuredly struggle to replicate Haskins’ excellent production (70% completion, 4831 yards, 50 touchdowns). Fields won’t have to do it all himself though because he has Steele’s second ranked running back and wide receivers units in the conference to give the ball to.
NUMBER 4: 14
Ohio State has beaten Michigan 14 of the last 15 times they’ve played. The winner of The Game this year will most likely be the East’s representative in the B1G Championship Game and a probable College Football Playoff contender. If Wisconsin comes out of the West, which given their schedule seems unlikely, they’ll have already played both of these teams. Will a second matchup be good or bad for the Badgers? We probably won’t get to find out...but it is hilarious to note how bad Michigan has been against aOsu this century.