What’s next for Ohio State football?  An early look at the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin

What’s next for Ohio State football? An early look at the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin

Little has changed since Ohio State last met Wisconsin in the 2019 Big Ten championship game.

The Badgers have slipped in the West. Having won the division three times in four seasons, they finished second and third in the previous seasons.

But Paul Chryst’s team presents their opponents with a physical test between Braelon Allen, pressure at running back, and a stout defense.

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) runs 36 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter of their game against New Mexico State on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) runs 36 yards for a touchdown during the first quarter of their game against New Mexico State on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

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College Football Week 4: Ohio State (3-0) vs. Wisconsin (2-1)

Saturday, 7:30 pm, ABC, 97.1 FM/1460 AM

Poll situation

Wisconsin was No. 18 in the Associated Press preseason poll before falling outside the top 25 after an upset loss to Washington State in its second game. This makes this the first match between the teams since 2012 when both are unranked. The Buckeyes remain No. 3 this week.

Point spread

Ohio State opened as a 17.5-point favorite after being favored by four or more touchdowns in its last two non-conference games.

Wisconsin’s last game

The Badgers bounced back from a loss with a 66-9 rout of New Mexico State, their biggest loss since a 61-0 shutout of Central Michigan in 2019. But the Aggies are winless and especially miserable. According to ESPN’s FPI rankings, they remain in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Strength of Wisconsin

Since Jim Leonhard was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2016, the Badgers have ranked in the top 10 in total defense in all but one season and were tops in the FBS last season. They are tough on that side of the ball.

Wisconsin’s weakness

The Badgers had problems with penalties like Ohio State. When they turned against Washington State, they were flagged 11 times for 106 yards. Second most in a game since Chryst took over in 2015.

Wisconsin player to watch

When Allen rushed for 1,268 yards last fall, he became the fourth in program history to surpass 1,000 yards as a freshman. The others were Ron Dayne, Jonathan Taylor and James White. That’s pretty good company. It is difficult to download Allen.

X-factor Wisconsin

Has quarterback Graham Mertz improved? The early signs point to progress. After throwing more interceptions than touchdowns a year ago, he has been much more efficient to start this season. Through three games, his 190.88 passer rating ranks fifth in the FBS and second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State’s CJ Stroud.

History of the Ohio State-Wisconsin series

The Buckeyes have won 11 of their last 12 games against the Badgers since their 2004 loss.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State Football: Early Look at Wisconsin

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