Ohio State football: 7 things to know about the matchup, series with Wisconsin

Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr.

Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr.

Ohio State football will be played in the daylight for the first time in more than a month Saturday when the Buckeyes play host to Wisconsin on Saturday.

The noon game will also mark a return home for Ohio State after a week off and a trip to Northwestern.

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Here are seven things to know about the matchup and the series with the Badgers:

1. They are coming off their first loss. 

Illinois shocked then-No. 6 Wisconsin with a field goal at the final gun to prevail 24-23 Saturday, one of the biggest upsets of the season so far.

The Badgers outgained the Fighting Illini 420-315 and dominated time of possession 40:49-19:11 but were undone by big plays and turnovers.

Illinois scored on pass plays of 48 and 29 yards along with a 43-yard run, and the winning score was set up by a leaping interception byTony Adams near midfield with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter.

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“You know that was a heck of a pick,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chyrst told reporters after the game. “Obviously, you would like to have that one back. We didn’t make enough of those plays in different areas to win the game.

“Give Illinois credit — They beat us today, and I’ve always had a ton of respect for (Illinois coach Lovie Smith) and what their team is doing. It’s a good team and we got to do better to give ourselves a chance. Each week is a challenge. We just didn’t do enough, obviously didn’t make enough plays to win this game and they did.”

2. Statistically, this is still by far the best defense Ohio State has faced this season. 

That probably doesn’t come as much surprise, of course, but here are the numbers: Wisconsin ranks No. 1 in the country in total defense (193.9 yards per game), rushing defense (58.4 ypg.), passing yard allowed (135.4 ypg.), opponent pass efficiently and scoring defense (7.6 points per game).

The best defense in the Buckeyes’ first seven opponents belongs to Indiana, which ranks 18th in total yards allowed (297) and 32nd in points allowed (20.9).

3. The offense isn’t bad, either. 

If you have watched Wisconsin in the past but not this season, you’re still pretty much up to date. The Badgers are 12th in the country in scoring (39.7 ppg.), 37th in total offense (443.7 ypg.), 17th in rushing (235.4 ypg.), 89th in passing (208.3 ypg.) and 20th in passing efficiency.

Running back Jonathan Taylor leads thew way with a Big Ten-best 136.7 yards rushing per game and national-best 16.3 points per game while first-year starting quarterback Jack Coan is fourth in the country in passing efficiency.

4. Advanced stats love the Badgers. 

A bad loss dropped Wisconsin to 13th in the Associated Press poll, but they fell only to seventh in SP+ advanced statistics at ESPN.

Wisconsin has the No. 22 offense in the country by that measure (which weighs play-by-play efficiency and explosiveness adjusted by opponent) and No. 2 defense.

Ohio State, meanwhile, is the No. 1 team in the country overall in SP+, ranking No. 5 in offense and No. 1 on defense. Alabama (No. 2 overall) is the only other team in the top 10 on both sides of the ball.

5. Danny Davis III is among six Ohioans on the Wisconsin roster. 

A junior receiver from Springfield, Davis caught five passes for 38 yards last week. He has 20 catches for 168 yards this season after totaling 66 catches for 836 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first two seasons in Madison.

The other Ohio natives are quarterback Chase Wolf (Cincinnati St. Xavier), tight end Seth Current (Pickerington Central), fullback Quan Easterling (Akron Hoban) and defensive ends Rodas Johnson (Columbus DeSales) and Isaiah Mullens (Canal Winchester Harvest Prep).

6. Ohio State has won six in a row against the Badgers. 

Like most teams in the Big Ten, Wisconsin has had a tough time historically against the Buckeyes, who lead the all-time series 59-18-5.

The Badgers never beat the Buckeyes from 1960-80, but Ohio State leads only 20-11-2 since 1981.

The story is similar even more recently as Ohio State’s 71.4 winning percentage against Wisconsin since 2001 is the worst against any league opponent other than Purdue (66.6%).

7. These are the best programs in the Big Ten over the past two-plus decades. 

Since 1993, Ohio State has won or shared 13 Big Ten championships — more than double any other school.

The Badgers are next with six conference championships in that span, including shared titles with OSU in ’93, ‘98 and 2010, while no one else has more than five.

They snatched Rose Bowl bids from the Buckeyes in all three of those seasons and benefited from Ohio State being ineligible for postseason play in 2012 by earning another Rose Bowl berth by beating Nebraska in the Big Ten championship game.

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