Not only will the Badgers have extra motivation to beat the Buckeyes on Saturday, but they'll also want to send the seniors out right who have done so much for the program.
The Badgers have a tough test with No.6 Ohio State and they'll have to be prepared on both sides of the football. The offense will have to be able to strike a balance and the defense is going to have to keep Braxton Miller in check. If the Badgers can do those two things, they should hopefully have success.
The rankings for the Front Seven are determined based on performance from last week, expectations this coming week, and need. It was not easy determining who would be important in helping the Badgers to a victory on Saturday.
Last Week's Rankings in Parentheses
1, Montee Ball, RB (1) - Ball will have a chance to break Travis Prentice touchdown record in his final home game, needing one score to tie and two to own it outright. Ball could be Wisconsin's best offensive threat on Saturday. It depends on what Wisconsin does offensively, but expect Wisconsin to go heavy on the run like they did against Indiana and Ball to get his touches. If Ball plays well again on Saturday he'll be able to take a lot of pressure off the quarterback position.
2, David Gilbert, DE (NR) - Gilbert's main responsibility against the Buckeyes will be able to keep contain and put pressure on Miller. Gilbert is second on the team in sacks with four and second in tackles for loss with seven. Gilbert needs to get into the Buckeyes backfield and keep containment. If he doesn't, Miller might be able to break off a couple huge plays against the Badgers' defense like last season.
3, Curt Phillips, QB (2) - Phillips only attempted seven passes against Indiana but that's because the running game was stupendous against the Hoosiers. That likely won't be the case against the Buckeyes, who are allowing only 107.9 yards per game on the ground. Phillips is going to have to make some throws to keep the offense balanced. Phillips showed he still had some legs against the Hoosiers and may have to use his legs to keep plays alive against the Buckeyes. Phillips was named one of the offensive MVP's for the Badgers against the Hoosiers and Bielema expects Phillips to take another step forward against the Buckeyes.
4, Chris Borland, MLB (NR) -Borland will have to be able to play all over the field on Saturday and will need to be on the field Saturday. Borland hasn't practiced 100 percent all week and will be a game-time decision. If he plays, he will line up at defensive end and see if he can help Gilbert put some pressure on Miller. If he can, it should be able to slow the Buckeyes offense down. If Borland, or anyone, has the chance to tackle Miller, he can't let him out of his grips.
5, Jared Abbrederis, WR (4) - If the Badgers try and get the passing game going against the Buckeyes, Phillips should target Abbrederis early. Abbrederis only caught the ball once against the Hoosiers for 14 yards. Abbrederis will have to try and get himself in to a groove. If Abbrederis can consistently get himself open, he'll become Phillips best friend on offense.
6, Devin Smith, CB (3) -Named a co-defensive player of the week for UW, Smith was able to pick off his third pass of the year and had two pass break ups against the Hoosiers. Smith has been playing really well as of late but if the Badgers can get some pressure on Miller, OSU's quarterback may try and force some passes into coverage. If he does hopefully Smith can pick off another pass.
7, Mike Taylor, LB (5) - Taylor is five tackles shy from posting consecutive seasons of 100 tackles. Putting together another solid senior season and playing his last home game, I'm sure Taylor will be playing with a lot of emotion. Leading the team in tackles for loss with 12, Taylor will need to keep Miller in front of him, as the quarterback was able to make Taylor miss last season and turned those plays into big gains. Being one of the leaders of the defense, Taylor will play his best game of the season.
Others to Note
Left Tackle Ricky Wagner: If the Badgers are going to have success running the football it will begin with Wagner and his linemates. Wagner played well in his return to the lineup last week by helping the Badgers set a record for most rushing yards in a game. Besides being able to create holes for the tailbacks, Wagner will have to do a good job in pass protection as well to allow Phillips some time to throw.
Running Back James White: White has to be able to get himself into an offensive rhythm over the last several games, meaning he should come out with confidence after his stellar performance against the Hoosiers. If White is struggling in the running game, it will be interesting to see if they try and get White involved in the passing game to see if he can make an impact there.
Cornerback Marcus Cromartie: Like Smith, Cromartie has been playing well as of late and may have a chance to pick off his first career pass. If he doesn't, he'll have to be able to shut down his side of the field because they could go after Cromartie early in the game to see if they can get a big play off of him.
Punter Drew Meyer: There has been no drop off in production from the punting spot by Meyer. Meyer has been punting the football well this year. If this game becomes a defensive battle or if Meyer can pin the Buckeyes offense inside their 10, it will limit what the Buckeyes can do on offense. Meyer could help the Badgers defense a lot if he punts well.