When No. 3 Ohio State hosts Wisconsin in the Horseshoe on Saturday night, we’ll have a traditional Big Ten East and West division power battle in the conference opener for the Buckeyes and Badgers. Of course, while both teams have proven to be powerhouses in their respective divisions over the years, the series between the two, like many involving Ohio State, is lopsided. The Buckeyes have won eight straight against Wisconsin and 11 of the last 12. Wisconsin’s only win in the series since 2005 was a 31-18 victory at Madison in the 2010 season.
Wisconsin took a 21-0 lead that day, with David Gilreath returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. These days, a 21-0 lead against Ohio State may not be big enough with the way the Buckeyes’ offense can score; Ohio State is averaging 47.7 points per game in its first three games.
What do you need to know ahead of Saturday’s primetime showdown in Columbus? Let us catch you up and make some choices.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: Need to know
Ohio State scored 77 points last week: The Buckeyes beat Toledo 77-21 last week in an impressive offensive display. However, the 11 touchdowns scored actually marked the fifth time the Buckeyes had reached that mark in a game since the 2000 season. The last time was in 2019 in a 76-5 (what a score) win over Miami ( OH). The Buckeyes’ offense had 763 yards in that game, which is the second-highest mark any Ohio State offense has amassed in a single game since 2000. The most was 776 yards in a 77-10 win (another of those 11 TD games) over Bowling Green in 2016. However, the biggest difference between the two games is that Ohio State had to run 94 games against Bowling Green (8.3 yards per) but only 78 plays (9.8 yards per) against Toledo. The bottom line: it was a ridiculous performance.
Buckeyes are always loaded to the receiver: Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were two of Ohio State’s top receivers last year, but they left to play in the NFL. Jaxon Smith-Njigba was left behind and is considered one of the best receivers in the country, but he suffered an injury early in Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame and barely got around. played since. No matter; the Ohio State Wide Receiver Industrial Complex motors run smoothly. Marvin Harrison Jr. — you might recognize the name — leads the team with 342 receiving yards and five touchdowns in three games, and Emeka Egbuka is right behind him with 324 yards and three touchdowns. Jayden Ballard and Xavier Johnson have stepped in to fill the third and fourth receiver roles, while tight end Cade Stover is averaging over 17 yards per catch.
Graham Mertz is off to an encouraging start: The former five-star rookie quarterback hasn’t lived up to billing since joining the Badgers, but there are encouraging signs in Wisconsin’s first three games of 2022. Mertz enters the week completing 71% of his passes for an impressive 11.2 yards per attempt. He also threw for six touchdowns, although I’m sure Coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin coaching staff harassed him about the two interceptions. Still, for a player who threw 19 touchdowns for 16 interceptions in his first two seasons, a 3-to-1 ratio is an improvement. Of course, it should be noted that Wisconsin’s first three games of the year were against Illinois State, Washington State and New Mexico State. It’s no coincidence that Mertz’ worst effort was Wisconsin’s 17-14 loss to the Cougars. If the Badgers are going to have a realistic chance of pulling off an upset, they’ll need Mertz to be the player he was in Wisconsin’s two wins.
How to watch Ohio State vs. Wisconsin live
Date: Saturday September 24 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Ohio Stadium — Columbus, Ohio
TV: ABC | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
Prediction Ohio State vs Wisconsin, choice
Featured Game | Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
While I have far too much respect for Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to believe that Ohio State will do to him the kinds of things he did to his last opponents, I didn’t about the same level of faith in Wisconsin’s offense to keep going in this game. Until Mertz proves to me that he can be counted on against the best opponents, I won’t bet that will be the case. Lay the dots with the Buckeyes. Prediction: Ohio State -18
What college football picks can you confidently make in Week 4, and which Top 25 favorite will fall hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that’s brought in more than $3,300 in profit over the past six-plus seasons — and find out.