Each Friday during the season, we'll be taking a look at a Big Ten player to watch when the games kick off Saturday.
This week's selection: Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier
Saturday assignment: at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2
Shazier failed to win his third consecutive Big Ten player of the week award this week but maybe only because his Buckeyes did not play last Saturday. The sophomore has come on strong in the second half of the season and has been outstanding his last three times out, against Purdue (13 tackles), Penn State (seven tackles, pick six) and Illinois (14 tackles).
Now comes a different type challenge for Shazier against Wisconsin. The Badgers ran for a school record 564 yards last week at Indiana and love to pull their guards and get their running backs into the second level of the defense. It will be imperative that the Ohio State linebackers provide strong run support -- and don't get burned too much on play action.
Shazier took over some leadership responsibilities when senior Etienne Sabino went down with a broken leg in the Oct. 6 Nebraska game. Sabino is back this week to help out, but Shazier needs to remain a big-time playmaker. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's a fierce hitter who can chase down plays away from his area.
If Shazier has a big game defensively, that will help the Buckeyes get one step closer to their goal of an undefeated season.