Buckeyes Have Eye On Badgers

Fans throughout the Big Ten and college football at large figure to take a keen interest in Wisconsin's visit to Michigan State on Saturday night. You can count some members of the Ohio State football team among that group, too.

Storm Klein did not hide his intentions for the Ohio State football team's open week in the schedule.

"We'll take this off week and heal up our bodies a little bit, but it's also time to get ready for Wisconsin," the linebacker said.

Ohio State next tees it up against the fourth-ranked Badgers on Oct. 29 at Ohio Stadium, but first Wisconsin must put down a challenge from No. 15 Michigan State on Saturday night.

The game pits the Big Ten's top offense (Wisconsin) against its No. 1 defense, and it could have major implications on the race.

Wisconsin has rolled through its first six opponents undefeated, but none of them were ranked. The 5-1 Spartans have won three in a row but still face questions about just how good they are despite throttling a high-powered Michigan offense for a second consecutive season.

Count the Buckeyes among those interested to see how this one turns out.

"The linebackers will be getting together," Klein said. "We're just going to take a peak at them and enjoy the game, then we'll be in here the next day going over that film and breaking it down."

Ohio State has already suffered two conference losses, but a Spartan upset of Wisconsin could put the Buckeyes back in contention for a berth in the Big Ten championship game if they can follow suit a week later.

The game also features an aspect of payback for the Buckeyes, who saw their bid for a perfect season derailed last season in Madison by the eventual Big Ten co-champions, who shared that title with Ohio State and Michigan State.

Johnathan Hankins, a 335-pound sophomore who said in preseason part of the motivation for his move to part-time end as opposed to full-time inside hole plugger was to prepare for power running teams like Wisconsin, promised to be watching his next challenge closely as well, but it will not be the first time he sees the Badgers on screen.

He has been watching them on film all season.

"That's always been a team to watch, just to see what they do because they've been playing pretty well this year," Hankins said, acknowledging the importance of the upcoming contest just in case there was any doubt. "It's bigger now because to be great we've got to win out this season, so that's a goal. We've got Wisconsin in front of us. That will be a good challenge so we're just getting prepared for it."

Although he has friends on the Spartan squad, Hankins said he will not be contacting any of them to see if they have any tips after they get done with the Badgers.

"I'm gonna watch the game and see how they do, and I'll take my tips from the game and develop a good plan," Hankins said.

Klein would not say if Ohio State's 31-18 loss at Wisconsin last year provided extra motivation for this year's contest, but he acknowledged the Badgers have become an annually significant opponent.

"I think it's just a big game any time you play Wisconsin. Two similar programs get together," he said. "They're going to try to establish the run. We're going to try to establish the run, and both defenses are going to try to shut it down. The big guys are going to be going at it up front. It's a physical game."

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