Preview: Wisconsin Badgers @ No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) play the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) tonight in Columbus, Ohio inside Ohio Stadium (The Horseshoe). Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (Central Time) and will be nationally televised on ABC.

Ohio State is favored by 19 1/2 points, per Bovada, as I write this. The Buckeyes own the all-time series 61-18-5.

The Badgers will now be without starting left tackle Jack Nelson tonight. Does the Nolan Rucci left tackle era begin tonight? Wedig? What an interesting situation Paul Chryst and company are faced with tonight.

The Badgers haven’t won in Columbus since 2004 and haven’t beaten Ohio State since 2010.

The key tonight is the UW offense being able to execute. Even UW’s best defensive units have struggled to contain OSU in the past, in large part because of being on the field for too long due to the lack of execution on offense.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Buckeyes are the second highest rated offense in college football right now and rank top six in both rushing and passing offense grades.

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has to win the chess match by being opportunistic, but not greedy. Each time UW sends a blitz, it sets up the potential for a game-changing play for OSU.

For quarterback Graham Mertz: this is why you’re here, to get the Badgers over the hump in big games when they can’t rely on the run for 60 minutes. Ohio State will undoubtedly stack the box, gang up on Braelon Allen, and put the game in Mertz’s hands.

As a starter, Mertz is 2-6 against ranked opponents. Those two wins came against Purdue and Iowa in 2021. Mertz’s touchdown to interception ratio against Top 25 teams? 4:11.

However, Mertz has gotten off to a fantastic start in 2022 and appears that he has figured things out. He ranks fifth in the country in QB efficiency (190.9), he’s completing 71.0-percent of his passes for 697 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. His 11.2 yards per completion also stands third among FBS signal callers.

Let’s pull off the biggest upset on the B1G stage tonight!

My Prediction:

Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 24.

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