"I hate losing to these guys," said a distraught Bielema after last year's 31-13 defeat. "It's something I absolutely can't stand."
Throw the possibly that both teams will be ranked in the top 10 with a night game in Camp Randall, it has the making of an instant classic when the two teams meet October 16.
In their 18-point setback in the Horseshoe, Tolzien got his rude awakening to the Big Ten. Tolzien threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdown and watched from the sideline as a kickoff was returned for a touchdown. The Badgers corralled Terrelle Pryor last season, and that will be the key if the Badgers want to end their three-game Buckeyes losing streak.
Pryor has started to live up to the hype he had coming in as a freshman. He had a manageable sophomore season, completing 57 percent of his passes for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. With 10 starters back on offense, including red-zone weapon DeVier Posey and explosive runner Brandon Saine, people are pegging Pryor, the Big Ten's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, as an early Heisman candidate.
Pryor seemed to turn a corner against Oregon in the Rose Bowl (22-of-37 for 266 yards, two TDs, one INT), but his game against Wisconsin (5-of-13 for 87 yards, one TD) still shows he needs to find consistency. This is his team now, so Pryor will be the focus.
While the offense appears to be stronger than last year, the jury will be out on the Buckeyes defense for the time being. Losing six starters from a defense that finished in the top 10 nationally in points allowed (12.5, 5th), yards allowed (262.3, 5th), and rushing yards allowed (90.8, 7th), fans shouldn't be fooled.
OSU returns senior defensive lineman Cameron Heyward (46 tackles and six sacks), senior linebacker Ross Homan (team-leader with 108 tackles and added five interceptions), senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (a shutdown corner that passed on the NFL) and senior free safety Jermale Hines (57 tackles and two interceptions).
If Wisconsin wants to get to a Rose Bowl, the path will go through the Buckeyes. As stacked as the Buckeyes are on both sides of the ball, don't get that Wisconsin returns 10 offensive starters and six on defense. This slugfest could be the game of the year not only in conference, but the country. Hopefully the students show up early for this one.
If you go
Date/Time - Saturday, October 16 at 6 p.m.
Arena – Camp Randall, Madison
Series – Ohio State leads 53-17-5
Last Meeting – Ohio State beat Wisconsin, 31-13, October 10, 2009 in Columbus
Early Prediction - Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 20