The Wisconsin Badgers will see the biggest challenge of their season when they face off against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, who are returning running back TreVeyon Henderson to the fold.
However, all eyes will be on star wideout Marvin Harrison Jr., who is compiling yet another strong season with 42 catches, 766 yards, and six touchdowns.
Harrison, a 6’4, 210-pound receiver, is widely seen as the top receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft and a bonafide first-round pick.
Meanwhile, the Badgers have just one cornerback in their rotation that stands over six feet tall (Nyzier Fourqueran at 6’1), which creates a tough challenge defensively.
How will the Badgers look to combat Harrison on Saturday?
It starts with acknowledging the talent that Harrison is, which will require the Badgers to play fierce at the catch point and be smart.
“Obviously, what stands out the most is he’s a very good in-traffic catcher,” cornerback Nyzier Fourqueran said. “So like, even if you’re there, pretty much, he can catch the ball. So we got to get our head around. We got to play with good eye control, good technique, and we got to be physical at the line of scrimmage and everything to slow him down. So, if you’re giving too much space, he’s very smart. He’s a smart football player, so he can get open matchups like this.”
However, while understanding the talent that Harrison is, the Badgers are focused on playing their style of football, rather than being scared.
“We understand he’s a great player. We’re not going to take anything from him. He’s a very good player,” Fourqueran said. “But you got to understand, you got to play your style of the game, you know what I’m saying? You got to have a good discipline but do the little things right, you know what I’m saying?
“We can’t give it too much and make it too much to make it to the point where we’re playing scared or anything like that. We just got to play our style of [football].”
Does Wisconsin intend to bracket Harrison?
Fourqueran doesn’t think that’ll be the case, but does anticipate the Badgers throwing different looks defensively to stifle the Ohio State offense.
”We obviously know that’s the quarterback’s number one target, so I won’t say we’re going to bracket him, but we’re going to switch up the defense a lot to keep him off guard,” Fourqueran said.
But, it all comes down to defending the wideout himself, which means that cornerbacks will have to be physical, but know when to do so in order to not draw flags.
“We got to be very physical,” Fourqueran said. “The big receivers, all of them are like 6’1 or bigger and like 200+ [pounds]. So I plan on using my length, using my given abilities to try and slow them down at the line of scrimmage so they don’t get free releases.”
“We got to play physical, but we got to know when to do it. We got to know when to change from physical to finesse. Like at the top of the routes and everything.”
The Badgers will have their hands full on Saturday with Harrison, and containing him will be key to keeping the game close. Will Wisconsin be up to the task?