Schedule preview: Wisconsin
Buckeyes' final road game of the season will be a huge one for the Badgers
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Nov. 17, at Camp Randall Stadium (kickoff and television TBA)
About the Badgers
2011 record: 11-3 (6-2 Big Ten)
Ohio State all-time against Wisconsin: Buckeyes lead series 54-17-5
Last year: Braxton Miller capped a thriller at Ohio Stadium, scrambling and throwing a long pass to Devin Smith with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, with the 40-yard touchdown giving the Buckeyes a 33-29 upset victory over the Badgers.
Key losses: QB Russell Wilson, TE Jake Byrne, C Peter Konz, RT Josh Oglesby, WR Nick Toon, RG Kevin Zeitler, DT Patrick Butrym, LB Kevin Claxton, CB Antonio Fenelus, FS Aaron Henry, DE Louis Nzegwu
2011 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)
Rushing: Ball* (1,923 yards, 33 touchdowns)
Passing: Wilson (3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns, 4 interceptions)
Receiving: Toon (64 receptions, 926 yards, 10 touchdowns)
Tackles: Taylor* (150)
Sacks: Louis Nzegwu (4.5)
Interceptions: Fenelus, Henry, Johnson* (4)
What they're saying: "I'm not blind and oblivious to the fact that now we're in a division that has six teams and only four of them are eligible for the Big Ten championship game. But it really won't change our approach. ... Any game that's on our schedule, I'll definitely make note of teams that are within our division, but it really doesn't change what we do because we can never skip a step to get where we want to be." - Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema
Three things to watch
1. Bad blood: Both coaches cleared the air about the public dust-up about recruiting tactics back in February, and Urban Meyer and Bret Bielema apparently consider the issue resolved. But that's off-the-field stuff, and Meyer isn't likely to forget about the accusations hurled his way from Wisconsin when he heads to Madison for his first visit as the coach of the Buckeyes in what could shape up into a fascinating divisional series between the two programs down the road.
2. Encore performance: The highlight reel of the Ohio State passing game last year isn't long, but perhaps the crown jewel of it has also surely been playing through the minds of the Badgers since Miller rolled out and hit a wide-open Smith 40 yards down the field to pull off a late upset. Assuming he stays healthy, Miller will have had 10 games to show off his progress at quarterback by the time he squares off against the Badgers again. And a successful last two weeks of the season could really start building the hype for him heading into his junior campaign.
3. On the line: In the decimated state of the Leaders Division, Ohio State might not even be able to play spoiler to Wisconsin and keep the heavy favorite out of the league title game. With both the Buckeyes and Penn State ineligible for the postseason, there could be plenty of room for error at the top in what is shaping up to be a two-team battle between the Badgers and Illinois. But the conference standings still mean plenty to Ohio State even if it can't make the trip to Indianapolis, and the unofficial division title could be up for grabs at Camp Randall.
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