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Get the inside scoop on Ohio State in advance of Saturday's primetime matchup against Wisconsin

Before No.8 Wisconsin takes on No.2 Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday, we get the inside scoop on the home team from Buckeye Sports beat writer Tim Moody.

1, What have you learned about Ohio State through five games that you didn’t know in August?

Tim Moody: With just three returning starters on offense and three more on defense, there was really very little that we did know about Ohio State going into the season. Perhaps the biggest lesson so far has come from the defensive secondary. Gareon Conley was always expected to play at high caliber this season, but corners Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward and safety Malik Hooker have been among the best in the nation as well.

2, What were some of the things Indiana exposed Saturday that could be a concern moving forward?

Moody: A lot of people would say that Indiana exposed Ohio State's passing game, but throwing the ball has never been J.T. Barrett's strong suit. He's a very talented runner, but has certainly had poor stretchers through the air in his career. On a normal day, Barrett hits one or two long balls that he missed against Indiana, though, so I wouldn't expect that to become the norm.

3, J.T. Barrett’s ability to beat teams through the air and with the option is tremendous. How have teams unsuccessfully tried to game plan against him?

Moody: The best way to stop Barrett is to force him to throw. I'm not sure there is a good way to take away the read option for Ohio State, but that's Barrett's bread and butter – Urban Meyer's, as well – and he would be much less effective if forced to sling it. 

4, Guys like Barrett, tailback Mike Weber and receiver Noah Brown are talked about quite a bit. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the offensive line?

Moody: The offensive line might be the best position group on that side of the ball for Ohio State. Senior center Pat Elflein is probably the best in the nation at his position, and the first-year starters – Jamarco Jones, Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince – have all been stellar. It's a very talented and very athletic line that tends to get downfield to spring some long runs.

5, Malik Hooker leads the nation with four interceptions. How has his play boosted Ohio State’s defense?

Moody: It's weird to say considering Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are both playing on Sundays, but Hooker seems to be a step UP for the Buckeyes this year. He is a freak athletically with a basketball background. When he has the freedom to roam the field he can get to the sideline as fast as anyone to make a play on the ball.

6, Ohio State’s defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. What’s the key to their rush defense being so effective?

Moody: Junior middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan deserves a ton of credit. He's not the flashiest guy around, but he controls the defense and plugs every hole he can. The interior line deserves some credit as well, especially redshirt freshman Robert Landers, who has been incredibly disruptive this season.

Ohio State also has four ends – Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa – who help out a lot in the run game. It's really a group effort as Ohio State swarms the ball.

7, How much do you think playing the night game at Oklahoma, and dominating the game, help this team this weekend?

Moody: I think it was huge to get one under the belt early in the season for such a young team. Now they've seen it all and done it all. But I also think Wisconsin is just as good if not better than Oklahoma, and the environment will be even more hostile.

8, Wisconsin fans were understandably upset with Antonio Williams’ flip to Ohio State. What’s been the buzz around him this year?

Moody: Williams was physically a little behind the curve earlier in the season, but he got in late against Rutgers and looked solid running the ball with the backups. There's just no room for carries for him in crunch time as he's still buried behind Weber, Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson and Demario McCall.

9, What areas of Wisconsin do you expect will give Ohio State trouble? Where do you think the Buckeyes have the edge over the Badgers?

Moody: I think Wisconsin has a great chance to disrupt Barrett in the pass game. That's the Buckeyes' weak point on offense, and Barrett could be forced into a turnover or two. On the flip side, Ohio State really looks set to eliminate Wisconsin's pass game, so if the Buckeyes get an early lead it could be very hard for the Badgers to get back in it.

10, What is the one thing Ohio State needs to do well in order to win Saturday?

Moody: As with any game Ohio State plays, the Buckeyes will win if they run the ball well – and they can't just lean on Barrett. If Weber carries the ball 15-20 times and Samuel gets the ball in space more often than he did against Indiana, Ohio State will have a great chance to win.


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