Defense Confidence Level – 10
The Ohio State football team’s defense is currently ranked fourth in the country only giving up 260.1 yards per game. Jim Knowles has this defense playing extremely confident and they are now starting to develop great depth. Despite not having Denzel Burke available against Penn State last week, true freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr. stepped up in his first start and played extremely well at cornerback. Linebacker Cody Simon also saw extended play against Penn State and had a terrific game, finishing with five tackles, three of which were solo.
Wisconsin offensively presents some interesting storylines heading into Saturday’s contest. Starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai broke his hand, opening the door for first-time starter Braedyn Locke. Locke, who was a three-star recruit out of the state of Texas, redshirted last season and made his first start last week on the road against Illinois, leading the Badgers to a 25-21 come-from-behind victory, outscoring the Illini 18-0 in the fourth quarter.
Locke was 21-41 passing for 240 yards and two touchdowns while throwing no interceptions. Of course, Wisconsin is once again led by their running attack. Braelon Allen is back and coming off of a 145-yard and one-score performance. So far this season, Allen has rushed for 704 yards and eight scores. Last season against Ohio State, Allen rushed for 165 yards, but most of that came in the second half after Ohio State had built up a huge lead and were playing second-stringers.
I believe Knowles and the Silver Bullets will be ready to stop Allen. Look for Knowles to play more three-linebacker looks than he has most of this season with Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers, and Simon getting the nod. If he decides to keep playing five safeties, then obviously Sonny Styles will be down in the box a lot given his tackling ability. I have complete confidence in this defense and am at a perfect ten.