Across the Field: Wisconsin

By Elika on November 15, 2012 at 12:07p

There certainly is no love lost between the Buckeyes and the Badgers. Even on the occasions where the result is heartbreaking, the games that feature these two teams are certainly memorable. As the 10-0 Buckeyes head to Madison to take on the Badgers during a bit of an upswing, compared to where they seemed to be headed earlier this season, Saturday should be no different.

Wisconsin is starting a backup quarterback who has been with the program for years and hasn't played much until their blowout win over Indiana last week. They are also favored in this game. Anyone who, unfortunately, remembers Jim Sorgi getting choked under a pile, and Lee Evans catching a 79-yard touchdown pass from backup QB Matt Schabert to defeat the Buckeyes and their 19-game winning streak, may realize anything can happen on Saturday. 

Then again, Urban Meyer seems to be on a mission and also seems to not be Bielema's biggest fan. So, again, anything can happen.

John Veldhuis of joins us this week, to share his thoughts on what to look for from this Badgers team, and what he thinks might happen.

Wisconsin is at 7-3, with games versus Ohio State and at Penn State left. How would you say this season, thus far, has differed from what you may have predicted for the Badgers preseason?

Well, it’s definitely gone a lot differently than many of us expected. A lot of people (myself included) vastly underestimated how much change the program was going through at the time. The Badgers lost a lot of good players from last season, and had an almost entirely new offensive coaching staff to work with. Throw in the fact that the Badgers are on their third starting quarterback of the season, and I’d say things haven’t exactly gone according to plan.

But despite all that, the Badgers have rebounded a little bit. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada seems to have found his footing, and the Badgers have still been able to run up large rushing numbers on most of their opponents. And above all else, they’re still heading back to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game, and they still have a chance to head back there on their own terms.

Montee Ball is clearly one of the stars of this team, and the Badgers' rushing offense one of their greatest strengths. Who you would you say has had some success stopping the Badgers rushing attack, and why?

Well, you just have to look at the stats: Oregon State, Nebraska, and Michigan State all had the most success against Ball this season. And even Nebraska’s a little iffy – Ball still had three touchdowns and 93 yards against the Huskers. But, not coincidentally, those are all three of Wisconsin’s losses. Teams have to contain Ball if they want to beat the Badgers, and stopping him has become even more paramount now that Joel Stave is supposed to miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

The Badgers' defense has also been impressive this year. Who are some of the Badgers Ohio State fans should watch out for when Ohio State has the ball?

Up front, keep an eye on defensive end David Gilbert and defensive tackle Beau Allen. They’ve combined for 6.5 sacks this season, and generally generate most of Wisconsin’s pass rush from the front four. Wisconsin’s defense funnels a lot of the action to linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor, and it shows in the stats since they usually rack up a lot of tackles. Cornerback Devin Smith and free safety Dezmen Southward get a lot of praise from the coaching staff for their play-making ability, and will play big roles against Ohio State this week.

How do you think the defense will hold up against Braxton Miller and the new Ohio State offense?

It’ll be tough, that’s for sure. Smith and the rest of the defensive backs will have to hold strong and keep Miller from completing easy passes, as well as prevent the Buckeyes from breaking off big plays. They’ve been better at that this season, but Ohio State will definitely pose their toughest challenge yet. The linebackers and the rest of the defense will have to keep Miller from hurting them too much with his legs, but I think their success will stop and start with how well the Badgers can keep Ohio State’s receivers in check.

5th year senior QB Curt Phillips will be making his 2nd career start against the Buckeyes on Saturday. What should Ohio State fans know about him, and how does he, if at all, change the game plan for the Badgers?

Phillips definitely changes the game plan a little bit. He’s a more mobile quarterback than Stave or Danny O’Brien, but less so than Russell Wilson. Three ACL surgeries have taken a little bit of his old athleticism with them, but he’s still mobile enough to move around and the Badgers have some designed quarterback runs that they like to employ with him.

The biggest question mark is his arm strength. It wasn’t great in the fall, but the coaches insist it’s gotten better as he’s gotten his legs back under him during the season. We didn’t see him throw the ball much at all against Indiana, and I think that’s partly because they didn’t need him to throw, and they didn’t want too many of his throws on tape for the Buckeyes to study. It’ll be interesting to see what he does if the Buckeyes are able to stop the run, that’s for sure. Nobody outside of the program really knows what we’re going to see.

Bielema and Meyer have had their share of drama in the preseason. How much do you think that, or the loss in Columbus last year, will play as motivating factors for the Badgers?

I think last year’s game will be the bigger motivator. Bielema has said many times that his spat with Meyer was overblown, so I think that’ll be reserved for the fan side of the rivalry. The Badgers are definitely still a little sore about their loss in Columbus, and I think they’ll be much more motivated to try and ruin Ohio State’s perfect season, in addition to playing for a Leaders Division Championship.

Do you have any Madison recommendations for our readers who may be traveling to the game?

Of course – the Kollege Klub off of State Street is always a hotspot after a game, and you can’t really go wrong with State Street Brats, which is a little further up the street. My personal favorites are The Great Dane and The Old Fashioned. They’re near the Capitol and have some of the best cheese curds you’ll ever eat, so if you’re into that kind of thing I would definitely think about making a stop there.

Final score prediction for the game?

I’ve gone back and forth about this game a bit, and having Phillips instead of Stave at quarterback makes a big difference. Phillips is kind of an X-factor for both teams, since Ohio State doesn’t know what to expect out of his arm and the Badgers haven’t seen him throw very much at all outside of practice yet. But I think Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to keep Ohio State’s offense in check, and it’ll be up to the offense and Montee Ball to put up some points and keep them in the game. For now I’m going with a Wisconsin win, 30-27.

Many thanks to John for sharing his insights with us. You can read more from John, and Badger Blitz, by checking out the following links:



Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

"For now I'm going with a Wisconsin win 30-27"

So John, this mean you will change your prediction at halftime when the Buckeyes are up?

In all seriousness, great write-up. The most effective running game will have the immediate advantage, but whoever makes plays in the passing game should come out on top. I expect a great game in a great atmosphere.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

John - thanks for the time and input!  I'll have to disagree with you on the final outcome though!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Baroclinicity's picture

3 ACL surgeries?  Wow.  Sports medicine has come a long way.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

dubjayfootball90's picture

I seriously see tOSU winning by 2 td... In all seriousness. I just dont think Wiscy will be able to compete once Q4 rolls around.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Doc's picture

I'm nervous that Phillips is going to go HAM on an unsuspecting Buckeye defense.  i think they will have more passing and misdirection plays than we are used to seeing.  Being gap sound and playing smart will be the keys.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Poison nuts's picture

Fight the team across the field
Show Wiscy we are here
Put so many points on the board
Big Bert leaves in Tears
Hah! Hah! Hah!
Hit them hard and see how they fall
Especially MonTEE or MonTAY Ball (whatever)
Hail! Hail! The gangs all here
So please go curb stomp them now!
Edit: just a little joke on account of the name of the article. No disrespect intended. I just started singing as I was reading...Great article, great input John - obviously we'll be disagreeing on the outcome, as should be the case.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

"some of the best cheese curds you’ll ever eat, so if you’re into that kind of thing"
I know we all hate Wisconsin and stuff... but cheese curds are the BOMB!  Especially if you melt them with some gravy and pour them over french fries.  I am hungry now.

flipbuckeye's picture

Your username does not disappoint. 

gwalther's picture

Even in Madison, I have a hard time seeing a 3rd string QB lead the Badgers to victory on Saturday. John is being a good optimistic fan...
That means if we lose, it will be painful. I'm more worried about TSUN.

Class of 2008

aj99's picture

The wiscy defense can keep our offense in check?  Really?  I don't see that.  I also don't see Ball having more than 80 yards.  Isn't the wiscy middle linebacker out with ham string injury?  I know tOSU fans are a little crazy some times, but I see nothing on the opposing team that frightens me.  Where do they have someone on the field who outmatches us?  Anyone?

Dougger's picture

i think in terms of personnel i just hope our lbs are hitting the right holes when montee comes through. james white hasn't been talked about much either. and like doc said, we just don't know what phillips will do. i'd be hard pressed for them to lean on him at all to get the ball down the field.
outmatches us...talent wise.. maybe montee ball. i think we outmatch everyone else, from the waterboys to UFM. as jim lachey said earlier this week "I'll take Braxton over Borland every single time".. i will too jim. now stop talking so much when it's your turn

I like football

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Aren't the Buckeyes just about due for an inexperienced QB to get a case of the nerves and implode against them?
Usually, it's the opposite:

  • Vandenburg plays the best game of his entire career in his very first start . . . in raucous Ohio Stadium with the BT Championship on the line. 
  • In 2009, S. Tolzien repeatedly stands in the pocket against withering pressure to throw for 250 yards
  • Juice Williams career game
  • Etc.
Dougger's picture

that would definitely hurt the worst. simon go mangle everybody. attack!

I like football

gwalther's picture


Class of 2008


Those Man-boobs are forever burned into my memory. Major League D-cuppage there Bret. Must be all that Wisconsin cheese and lack of sunlight.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

LadyBuck's picture

Thanks for burning this image into my retnas. 

Dublin68's picture

Thank you Elika for the nice interview with John. This game is not easy at all; we are the second worst team in the big ten in passing defense. If Phillips can have any success with the passing game, watch out for a couple big passing plays

Ahh Saturday's picture

The offense that Wisconsin has faced that is closest to the Buckeyes is probably Nebraska.  Against the Huskers, the Wiscy D gave up 30 points, 440 total yards, 239 rushing yards, and 107 yards on 13 carries to Martinez who also threw for nearly 200 yards.  I don't see any reason to believe that Wisconsin can do any better against OSU. 

LadyBuck's picture

I am cautiously optimistic about this game. My one questions is how will Wisky's OL fare against our DL? I think that will truly decided the game right there. I think if we can exhaust their D (think Penn State) and put pressure so the backup QB can't pass or have time to really pitch it off to MonTEE/MonTAY, we'll win.

Evansvillebuckeye's picture

3 ACL surgeries notwithstanding - there has to be a reason a 5th year senior QB has not seen the field prior to this year.  I like the Bucks chances...

CC's picture

30 to 27?  Really?
If we play a full game, I'm thinking 63-14.

Matt's picture

That would be in line with the opening line, but I think OSU defense sells out to stop the run, forcing Philips to make play action throws, and I don't think he has the athletic ability to keep them in the game.  Russel Wilson, he is not.

Dougger's picture

I hope our Devin Smith beats their Devin Smith bad on Saturday. more than once. 
Thanks Elika

I like football

Breakawayspeed's picture

But I think Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to keep Ohio State’s offense in check, and it’ll be up to the offense and Montee Ball to put up some points and keep them in the game. For now I’m going with a Wisconsin win, 30-27.
Ahem....ground control to Major Tong:  You completely overlooked Mr. Carlos Hyde in any of your comments.  The OSU running game (outside of Braxton's moves and speed) is more powerful than anything you guys have faced this year.  Borland and Taylor better pack a lunch.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Had to upvote you just on your Avatar alone.....

Earle's picture

I had the same thought about Carlos.  I guess he'll have to teach someone else his name.
BTW, not entirely sure here, but I think it is Major Tom, and I really think Wisconsin's D better take their protein pills and put their helmets on, or Mr. Hyde will send them into orbit.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

AmherstBuckeye's picture

@CandadianBuckeye, your picture is hysterical. Gotta love Bubbles

iball's picture

Mark May just picked Wisky to win easily and run for over 300 yards Saturday.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

cbusbuckeye's picture

The man doesn't have a soul

Maestro's picture

Stop watching ESPN, it's bad for your constitution.

vacuuming sucks