For the first time in team history, Wisconsin football is 12-0. To win the Big Ten Championship, the Ohio State Buckeyes will have to make sure the Badgers don’t get to 13-0.
Wisconsin’s victories have been impressive. They’ve won 10 their 12 games by a margin of at least 14 points. That being said, the quality of their competition can be debated. Only four of their opponents have winning records. Overall, the Badgers opponents have a combined record of 69-76.
Regardless of the strength of schedule, there are few people who would argue that Wisconsin is really hard to score on. They have the second-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing just 12.0 points per game, least in the Big Ten since the 1998 Badgers, which gave up 11.9 points per game.
They have the top ranked rushing defense nationally, and eight times this season, Wisconsin has held their opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards. Ohio State is hoping to avoid being the fifth straight team the Badgers manage to keep beneath the century mark. On top of which, Wisconsin has allowed only four rushing touchdowns on the year, fewest in the FBS.
That defense is led by the team’s linebackers. Playing in a 3-4, their top two tacklers (Ryan Connelly, TJ Edwards), top two sack leaders (Garrett Dooley, Andrew Van Ginkel) and top five players in tackles for loss (Dooley, Edwards, Connelly, Van Ginkel, and Leon Jacobs) all play the position. Heck, they have a linebacker tied for the team lead in interceptions (Edwards with four).
The other position where Wisconsin is especially strong is on offense, where running back Jonathan Taylor has had a good enough season to make him a Doak Walker finalist. He needs just 120 yards to break Adrian Peterson’s FBS freshman record of 1,925 yards, and since he averages 150.5 yards per game (which ranks him third nationally), he’s definitely within striking distance.
The offensive line for Wisconsin is mammoth. The smallest of the starters is freshman center Tyler Biadasz, who is 316 pounds. Hard to move, they only give up 1.42 sacks a game.
At quarterback, the Badgers have lefty Alex Hornibrook. He completes nearly 64 percent of his passes, has 21 passing touchdowns, but also threw a pick in every Big Ten game this season until this past week’s win over Minnesota. He has 13 interceptions total, but not one of those has come in the fourth quarter of a game.
That might be part of the reason Wisconsin is the only FBS team to not trail in the fourth quarter of any game this season.
Hornibrook’s top target with 38 catches is 6’6″ tight end Troy Fumagalli.
Ohio State and Wisconsin play at 8:00 p.m. on 97.1 The Fan.