The 7-0 Ohio State football team travels to Madison, Wisconsin this week for a primetime showdown with the 5-2 Badgers on NBC. When the schedules for this season were released earlier this year, this was one game I had circled that worried me.
Camp Randall Stadium at night is no joke. Plus, this was going to be the inaugural season of former Buckeye Luke Fickell on the sideline for the Badgers, and you know he is going to have a chip on his shoulder about never getting a phone call from Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith following the departure of Urban Meyer.
Ohio State is coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, defeating previously undefeated Penn State by a score of 20-12. The Ohio State defense was suffocating, holding Penn State to 1/16 on third downs and under 250 total yards of offense, 71 of which came on Penn State’s final drive.
The Ohio State offense was the Marvin Harrison Jr. show once again. MHJ finished with 11 receptions for 162 yards and 1 touchdown. His 162-yard performance was his fifth game in school history where he had gone over 160 yards or more, passing David Boston who had accomplished the feat four times during his illustrious career with the Ohio State football program.
Ohio State has a lot of confidence on both sides of the ball coming into this game. This is why this game feels very much like a trap game if there ever was one. In the past, Ohio State has lost this kind of game where they go on the road to face a Big Ten West Division opponent at night after winning a big home game the week before.
In 2017 it was a 24-55 loss to Iowa. In 2018 it was a 20-49 loss to Purdue. In both games, the Ohio State defense had no answers, which is why this game might look like it could possibly be a trap, but more than likely will not be. The Ohio State defense will not give up 55 or 49 points on Saturday in Madison.
Despite my confidence that the defense will travel and be ready to stop Fickell’s Badger offense, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have a few reservations. This is still the Big 10 on the road, and the last three times Ohio State has gone to Wisconsin, they have come home with a loss and two seven-point wins. Here is how I break down my confidence level this week going into the Wisconsin game.