Front Seven - Ohio State

Badger Nation's popular feature - the Front Seven - is back, ranking the top seven players based on performance, expectations and need for this week's game against No.4 Ohio State.

MADISON - After the debacle in the desert, it was good to see Wisconsin come out and play aggressive against Purdue. It would have been easy for the Badgers to be distracted or looking ahead toward Ohio State, but the players and coaches did a good job of staying focused and took care of business.

In his post game press conference Gary Andersen mentioned that he will hold on to the loss against Arizona State for a while. He hopes his players will do the same, continue to play mad and use the loss as motivation for the rest of the season. Hopefully the Badgers do especially with a tough game on the road against No.4 Ohio State.

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, Joel Stave QB (1): For the fifth straight week Stave is number one in the Front Seven. In order for the Badgers to win on Saturday, Stave is going to have to put his best game together. He can't have a game where it takes him awhile to get going and he can't miss his intended target, like he did on a deep pass to Jared Abbrederis. Stave will have to let the game come to him and try not to do too much. Stave has improved where he doesn't always look down his intended target but still needs to improve. The Buckeyes will try and pressure him so he can make a mistake. Losing the turnover battle against Ohio State is never a good thing.

2, Melvin Gordon RB (3): Gordon has put together quite the season through only four games. He already has more rushing yards then he did last season (624 yards this year compared to 621 last season) and currently leads the BCS in rushing. Gordon will have to put together a great game against the Buckeyes, who will try to prevent from running outside the tackles and and force him up the middle. Even though he is electric when he gets to the outside, Gordon has become a little more comfortable running the football up the middle, which in turn will open up alleys on the perimeter.

3, Beau Allen NT (NR): Allen played a very effective game against Purdue, helping the Badgers record four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Allen will have to do the same by taking on blocks and allowing Chris Borland and the rest of the linebackers to make plays in the backfield. Quarterback containment will be huge in this game, especially if Braxton Miller is 100 percent healthy and ready to run.

4, Sojourn Shelton CB (4): If Shelton lost any of his confidence against Arizona State, he regained it against the Boilermakers. Shelton finished the game with five tackles and recorded his second interception of the year. Shelton will have to be ready this coming week because Ohio State's quarterback will look to test Shelton and go after him early. If he gets beat, Shelton can't get frustrated with himself like he did at times against Arizona State.

5, James White RB (NR): Like Shelton, White had a nice bounce back game rushing for 145 yards on 16 carries. White struggled against the Sun Devils and it will be important that he takes some pressure off Gordon. We know Abbrederis is going to be targeted by Stave and he's going to get his catches, but White has been stepping up in the passing game. White currently is second on the team in both catches (11) and receiving yards (115).

6, Brendan Kelly OLB (5): Kelly sat the game out against Purdue but should be ready to go against Ohio State. The Sun Devils exposed Kelly to the point that he still needs work in coverage when he's matched up against a speedier tailback. The Buckeyes will certainly try to take advantage of that with some of their talented athletes on offense. Kelly will need to be prepared and he may need help over the top if he gets beat. When Kelly doesn't drop back in coverage, he needs to be able to finish plays. Kelly has been able to get to quarterbacks in the past but hasn't always been able to take down the quarterback. If he can't contain Miller, it may lead to a big play.

7, Jared Abbrederis WR (6): Per usual, Abbrederis will be key in trying to keep the offense not one-dimensional. Abbrederis finished Saturday's game with seven catches for 94 yards. In the past two games against Ohio State Abbrederis has nine catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Others to Note

ILB Conor O'Neill: Derek Landisch will likely play on Saturday but O'Neill has filled in very nicely over the last several weeks. It's quite clear that O'Neill is playing some of his best football of his career. O'Neill finished the last game with five tackles, one pass break up and one quarterback hurry. Even if Landisch plays, O'Neill should see his fair snaps during the game to try and keep contain of Miller.

OLB Vince Biegel: Biegel played well in his first career start recording his first career sack. Kelly will most likely get the start but like O'Neill, Biegel should see plenty of snaps on defense. Biegel showed good burst and was able to generate good pressure on Purdue quarterback Rob Henry throughout the game. If Kelly struggles to keep up in pass coverage, Biegel could come in on passing situations to bring more speed to the defense.

ILB Chris Borland: Borland returns to Ohio as a college player for the last time of his career and he would like nothing more then to leave Columbus with a victory. For Borland to be effective, he's going to need to let Allen and the rest of the defensive line take up their blockers and to let Borland bring havoc in the backfield. I can see Borland lining up in different spots throughout the game to try and cause confusion and force the Buckeyes' offense to guess where he's coming from.

TE Jacob Pedersen: Pedersen left the Purdue game early due to a leg injury and it is still unclear whether or not will he be healthy enough to play against Ohio State. If he does he'll have to provide another option for Stave in the passing game, as Abbrederis and White can't be the only ones providing targets to Stave. Pedersen will probably give it a go but if he is hesitant or is slow off the line, Brian Wozniak or Sam Arneson will have to step up.


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