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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Getting back on their feet

Despite coming off a stunning 63-32 loss to Indiana, it is not time for Wisconsin players to slip into a state of panic or give up on the season. 




At least that's what history suggests. 




Although the loss to Indiana marked the seventh time in the Barry Alvarez era that a UW team has lost by at least 31 points, the Badgers, who are 1-1 in the Big Ten and 3-3 overall, boast an impressive 4-1-1 record after blowout losses. 




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On this occasion, however, it won't be easy. This week's game at No. 25 Ohio State (2-0, 3-1) will serve as an indicator of how quickly the Badgers can recover from a devastating loss. 




'This will be our first test,' Badger Head Coach Barry Alvarez said. ' We bounced back after a couple of tough losses [this season]. I thought we bounced back pretty well, which means our leadership is pretty good.' 




In Ohio State, UW matches up with a tough defensive team that ranks second in the nation in points allowed and third in total defense, allowing just 304 yards per game. 




The Buckeyes also have a tough offensive front, which gained 257 yards on 53 carries against Northwestern last week. 




If Wisconsin is to improve on its impressive post-blowout mark and bounce back from last week's debacle, the Badgers need to make sure they accomplish several goals. 












After an impressive start to the season, UW's offense has faltered as of late. The Badgers were held to a season-low 106 yards rushing against the Hoosiers, and the running game must get back on track for Wisconsin to even have a chance to upset the Buckeyes. 




However, it will also be necessary to establish the passing game in order to force OSU to respect the Badgers' running game. It must be taken into account that UW is 45-4 when rushing at least 50 times in a game during the Alvarez era, but if the Buckeyes don't respect the pass, they'll stack up the line. 




Hopefully, the Badgers will be able to take advantage of whatever formation Ohio State throws at them.  












OSU is known as a team that will get after the opponent's quarterbacks by rushing six or more defenders.  




'[OSU] started out very strong on defense and they continue to get better,' Alvarez said. 'Their defensive front is very physical, they're fast, they don't stay blocked [and] they play with great leverage.' 




However, these blitzes should provide UW with enough openings to make its passing game work. Therefore, Offensive Coordinator Brian White must find ways to stretch the field with deep passes and crossing routes to take advantage of the Buckeyes' aggressive defense. 












After allowing an outrageously high 449 rushing yards against the Hoosiers, a suddenly porous defensive line must stop the Buckeyes' trio of gifted runners'senior Jonathan Wells, who averages 103.5 yards per game, freshman Lydell Ross (43.5 yards per game) and sophomore Sammy Maldonado (38.5 yards per game)'from running wild. By stuffing the run, UW will force OSU to take to the sky to try to put points on the board, something the Buckeye offense doesn't really prefer. 












After not being able to establish pressure against Indiana's high-octane quarterback Antwaan Randle El, the Badgers must try to pressure Ohio State senior quarterback Steve Bellisari into making mistakes. Although Bellisari has passed for more than 4,000 yards in his career, his completion percentage is an unimpressive 49.5 percent. Constant pressure by the defensive line should force Bellisari to rush his passes, which could lead to turnovers.

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