1, The "Heavy Technique" vs. the Badgers offense
During the second half of the Nebraska game, the Cornhusker defensive line switched to a heavy technique. That is the played straight at the offensive lineman opposite them, their lead foot splitting the numbers on their Badgers counterpart. This is very different from a gap technique. Michigan State drew heavily on that film lesson and went straight at the Badgers offensive line. This works best when the quarterback isn't very mobile. So the questions for this week's game: Does Ohio State have the players to go straight at the Badgers? Has Bart Miller had enough time to adjust for this apparent deficiency in technique? Is Curt Phillips' greater mobility enough to counter this tactic by getting to the edge as needed? Will Ricky Wagner's return make a difference as it surely would have against MSU?
2, Braxton Miller vs. the Badgers Linebackers
The Buckeye QB has accounted for 1,700 passing yards (generating a strong QB rating of 140) and rushed for a team-leading 1,100 yards. The Badger linebacking trio of Chris Borland, Ethan Armstrong and senior Mike Taylor will have their hands full. Will Borland play on a bad hamstring? If the Badgers can shut down Miller's running game it means they'll win. It is no easy task.
3, The Badgers Secondary vs. the OSU passing game
Perhaps surprisingly, OSU does not have a deep roster of pass receivers. Wide receivers Philly Brown and Devin Smith have caught 48 and 24 passes, respectively. The next leading pass receiver is tight end Jake Stoneburner, with only 15 receptions. Last week the Badgers shut down Indiana's four receivers with 30 or more catches apiece. Senior cornerback Devin Smith will no doubt be matched up against Brown. This looks like an advantageous situation for the Badgers.
4, The Kicking Game
In what should be a close contest, this will matter. The Badgers punter Drew Meyer and place kicker Kyle French have been improving. Surprisingly the Ohio State place kicker Drew Basil has attempted only six field goals, making four. He is 2 of 3 when the yardage is 30-39 and 0 for 1 at 50+. Basil was one of the Big Ten's best in 2011. A missed field goal could be the deciding difference.
5, Can Curt Phillips convert third downs?
He will be called on to convert with his feet but also with his arm. The Badgers officially attempted seven passes, called 11 passing plays. Phillips will need to keep the Buckeyes off balance to help the running game. There aren't many stats to cite as Phillips has only played against Indiana. This is the great unknown Key for the final home game of the season.
The Badgers run the ball much more effectively than is expected, handing the Buckeyes their first loss in 2012, 28-20.