Saturday, October 29, 2011
Halftime: Wisconsin 7, Ohio State 3
By Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick thoughts at halftime at Ohio Stadium, where Ohio State is giving No. 15 Wisconsin all it can handle.
Turning point: Wisconsin led 7-0 and faced third-and-1 from its own 26-yard line. Typically a formality given the Badgers' running backs and offensive line, Wisconsin failed to pick up the first down as S Christian Bryant stopped Montee Ball for no gain. Ohio State changed field position on the next possession and kept Wisconsin from doing much offensively.
Stat of the half: Wisconsin entered the game ranked eighth nationally in rushing (252.1 ypg). The Badgers have rushed for 200 yards in each of their previous six games. Ohio State held Wisconsin to only 10 rush yards on 12 carries in the first 30 minutes. John Simon and Adam Bellamy recorded sacks of Russell Wilson.
What Wisconsin needs to do: Rush. The. Football. It seems absurd to suggest for a Wisconsin team, but the Badgers' biggest strength has vanished tonight. Ohio State's defensive front has controlled the line of scrimmage extremely well. Wisconsin must get Ball and James White going and create more manageable down-and-distance situations. The defense has contained the big play well but must keep an eye on QB Braxton Miller, whose speed and elusiveness make him a threat to take off on every snap.
What Ohio State needs to do: The game plan is working well so far, as Ohio State has taken time off of the clock, stopped the run and kept Wisconsin's powerful offense off of the field. The Buckeyes must continue to clog the middle of the field and pressure Wilson, who looks a bit off his game and is having trouble extending plays like he typically does. Ohio State needs to start limiting the negative-yardage plays on offense and hit on some big gainers, as it's very difficult to keep Wisconsin out of the end zone for 60 minutes. It would also be good to call more high-percentage passes for Miller to throw.