Five Answers: Ohio State-Wisconsin

We were wondering if P.J. Hill would play, how the Badgers would fair if forced to play without him, what the Buckeye offense would look like a week after thrashing a good defense on the road, if the Badgers' tight end would be a factor and how the kickoff teams might alter the game. For a look at what we found, read on.

1. How healthy will P.J. Hill be?

Hill did not play nor even suit up because of the lingering affects of a lower leg bruise.

"Basically from Wednesday on we had a feeling that P.J. wasn't going to be able to go good enough to go on Saturday," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said after the game.

2. What will the Badgers do if Hill cannot go?

The Badgers ran the ball fairly well when considering the strength of Ohio State's run defense.

Freshman Zach Brown ran 20 times for 63 yards, only seven yards less than the Buckeyes give up on average.

"I thought he was probably going to play the way he did," Bielema said. "He's not afraid of anything. I just like the way he came in. He didn't have big eyes."

Despite talk during the week that Quincy Landingham or one of the Badger fullbacks could help share the load, Brown was the only tailback or fullback to have his name called for a rush.

The Badgers opted for just one or two called runs for quarterback Tyler Donovan, but he still got plenty acquainted with the Buckeyes as he was sacked nine times.

With options limited in the running game, Wisconsin went to the air more often than usual.

When accounting for the 10 sacks Ohio State registered – including one of tight end Travis Beckum on an attempted trick play – the Badgers called passing plays on roughly 60 percent of their snaps, a significant difference from the rest of the season, when Wisconsin's run-pass ratio is 60-40.

That alteration in strategy did not come as a surprise to Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

"I think there's no question that when Wisconsin was here without their running back, they were going to throw it more, and our guys can get after you when you're going to throw the ball and I'm sure that Tyler Donovan, who I think is one of the toughest kids in the Big Ten conference, I'm sure he's sore now, he gave a valiant effort and our guys were after him," Tressel said.

3. How will Ohio State try to control Travis Beckum?

All Beckum's tools were on display Saturday in the Horseshoe.

The 6-4, 224-pound junior caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.

The latter came on a spectacular diving effort in which he eluded two Buckeye defenders. Both men with silver helmets appeared to be in position to make the play, but Beckum came away with the points on a play that covered 28 yards.

It was Beckum again who made the biggest play on the Badgers' go-ahead touchdown drive as he made a catch over the middle, bounced off a would-be tackler and rambled 46 yards to the Ohio State 4-yard line.

OSU linebacker James Laurinaitis said Beckum was as good as advertised.

"He's basically a big wide receiver playing tight end," Laurinaitis said. "He's athletic, he's fast and he made some great plays.

"We had to be aware of where he was on the field at all times," he added. "Obviously we knew he was going to be their go-to guy now that (receiver Luke) Swan is hurt so we just have to be aware of where he was. That was one of our things in the passing game."

4. Will the OSU offense stay on a roll?

Ohio State came out firing with Todd Boeckman leading the Buckeyes to an easy touchdown on their first drive, but after that the road got bumpy for a while.

Wisconsin dropped defenders out of the box and got good pressure on Boeckman to disrupt his timing with his wide receivers.

The answer was to go to the Wells – Chris, in this case.

Ohio State ran the ball just 10 times in the first two and a half quarters, but once Beanie got revved up, there was no stopping him.

It helped that the offensive line, particularly the left side of tackle Alex Boone and guard Steve Rehring, began to dominate.

"We had good blocks on the front side and we definitely had some great blocks on the backside because Beanie cut a couple back for long touchdown runs," OSU right tackle Kirk Barton said. "We wanted to pound them and we were able to towards the end of the game.

"The thing about running the ball is running the ball takes the will away from a defense," Barton added. "You can pass the ball all day but that doesn't demoralize a team the way that pounding them does. If you keep pounding them and you get big chunks of eight, 10, 30 yards, you get those chunks and then they're looking around wondering what's going on. We've got to keep doing that these next two weeks.

5. Can the Buckeyes finally make some progress in the kickoff department?

Neither team did much business on kickoff returns.

The longest return for Wisconsin was one of 21 yards by Maurice Moore, while Ray Small brought back a kick 20 yards for the Buckeyes.

Wisconsin's Taylor Melhhaff showed why he is one of the Big Ten's best kickoff men by booming his four kicks an average of 68.8 yards, including two touchbacks.

Meanwhile, A.J. Trapasso struggled somewhat with his kickoffs, averaging just 54 yards. None of his four attempts reached the end zone.

That unit got a lift, however, with the return of Aaron Pettrey in the fourth quarter. He showed his leg is still plenty strong by averaging 66.3 yards per boot. His first kickoff was a touchback while the second reached the goal line as well but was returned.

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