Five Keys to Victory - Ohio State

Back on track after pummeling Minnesota, No.18 Wisconsin can expect a much closer this game this Saturday with No.1 Ohio State. The last three meetings have been decided by a total of 15 points, meaning perfection is essential. That having said, Badger Nation gives its keys to the game.

1. Ok, special teams, for real this time, STOP THEM.

Well the headline pretty much sums it up. The special teams needs to keep the Buckeye return game in check. OSU's Jamaal Berry has done a great job on kickoffs this year, averaging 28.2 yards per carry. He hasn't broke one yet, but if the special teams unit doesn't improve on the poor performances so far this season, Saturday could be the day.

2. On the flip side…

Ohio State's coverage unit hasn't exactly been stellar this year either. The kickoff coverage team has given up an 88-yard return for six and the punt coverage has allowed a whopping 16.1 yards per return. Breaking it down, the punt numbers are inflated a little from a 79-yard touchdown being one of only eight punts on the year, but that doesn't mean that the Badger return game could have some of their greatest moments come Saturday night. David Gilreath showed the ability to break one last year at Northwestern, and I'm sure no one is questioning the breakaway ability of James White at this point.

We'll see who is deep for the badgers on punt returns, but between Gilreath, White, the speedy Jared Abbrederis, and Aaron Henry, someone could get a golden opportunity.

3. Pryor Engagement

Terrelle Pryor hasn't exactly had success against the Badgers. He is 18-for-32 for 115.5 ypg passing and attempted 25 rushes for 55 yards total (27.5 ypg, 2.2 ypc). Wisconsin needs to figure out what they did to stop him the last two years and hope that it will be enough to keep this year's version at bay. Pryor has improved quite a bit since these teams last met, and not having Chris Borland will hurt the Badgers in stopping Pryor from taking off. It will be up to JJ Watt and Mike Taylor to hurry Pryor and take him down on the run, respectively.

4. Establish the run

Last year in Columbus, Wisconsin managed only 118 yards on the ground on 44 attempts. Not good for a Badger offense. Wisconsin had to rely on the pass, and while Tolzien had some positive moments - he passed for more yards (250) than Ohio State gained total (184) - he also completed two passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns to the Buckeyes. Make no mistake that a big part of those picks could be attributed to getting into way too many third-and-long situations as a result of a shaky ground game.

If the power rush of John Clay doesn't work again, maybe the quick attack of James White can get the Badgers going on the ground.

5. Bring da noise

Nothing riles up a college fan base quite like a night game against a highly-ranked opponent. Camp Randall should actually be filled come kickoff (even the student section should be able to get there on time. Fingers crossed). The atmosphere should be a big factor, especially on long yardage audibles and options. This is the first real test for the Buckeyes since mid-September, and easily the most hostile environment. If Wisconsin can capitalize on the home field advantage, the raucous crowd could be tearing up the town come 10 p.m. Saturday night.

Fearless Prediction

Again, it's not fearless. I'm not exactly sure how good this Wisconsin team is. I think Ohio State earning the No.1 ranking actually helps the Badgers. Nothing gets a team fired up more than seeing the opponent on top of the polls. On the flip side, the pressure just got that much heavier for Pryor and the Buckeyes. As long as Wisconsin doesn't stare too deeply into the vest, they have a good shot at this one.

Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 23


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