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Friday, September 22, 2023

Football: Badgers take on Ohio State in primetime matchup on the road

By Cameron Kalmon

The Daily Cardinal

Two titans of Big Ten football will clash Saturday night as the Badgers head to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 4 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes (4-0 overall) went undefeated last season and currently hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA at 16 games.

Ohio State was ineligible for a bowl game last season, while No. 23 Wisconsin (1-0 Big Ten, 3-1 overall) won its third consecutive Big Ten championship.

The highly anticipated game been surrounded by rumors and dialogue, including OSU’s quarterback situation: Whether Buckeye junior quarterback Braxton Miller or senior quarterback Kenny Guiton will start.

After much anticipation, head coach Urban Meyer revealed earlier this week that Miller was likely to start.

“I’m sure they will both play,” head coach Gary Andersen said. “We haven’t prepared any differently for whichever quarterback is going to be out there.”

The Badgers will start with a healthy defense as redshirt junior cornerback Peniel Jean, redshirt senior linebacker Brendan Kelly and junior linebacker Derek Landisch will play Saturday after coming out of last week’s contest against Purdue with injuries.

It does not seem to matter much to Wisconsin who its opponent is or which storylines the media highlight. Anderson looks to play steady football week to week.

“I do not believe in treating one game as a massive game,” Andersen said. “It’s another game we prepare for exactly the same way.”

Redshirt junior center Dallas Lewallen was also injured, and will sit Saturday night, with redshirt freshman Dan Voltz likely to take his place.

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Problems with smooth snaps have plagued the Badgers this season, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Stave’s lost snap against Purdue, which he recovered to salvage the play.

“You need to make sure you’re smart with who is in there, every guy is a little bit different.” Stave said. “I think whoever we’ve got in there will do a good job.”

Stave has 761 total passing yards this season, while his favored target redshirt senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is leading the Badgers with 365 receiving yards, averaging almost 16 yards per reception.

Wisconsin may not have their full starting offensive line, but they will have redshirt senior tight end Jacob Pedersen, who was also injured against Purdue.

He has 101 receiving yards this season, though the Badgers have personnel to fill the spot if Pedersen succumbs to injury, according to Andersen.

“[Redshirt senior tight end Brian Wozniak] has been very good at the point of attack.” Andersen said. “He’s been physical. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do in the run game and been very good at that. I like where he’s gone.”

The Badgers may need to deviate from their traditional ground-and-pound offense.

The Buckeyes have undoubtedly noticed the outstanding numbers from senior running back James White and redshirt sophomore running back Melvin Gordon.

White is currently the NCAA’s active career rushing leader, while Gordon is currently leading Wisconsin in all-purpose yards.

Gordon leads the nation in yards per carry with 11.8, averages 156 rushing yards per game and has 7 touch downs so far this season.

“I think for their defense, they want to obviously stack up and stop the run,” Anderson said. “So I think our run game may help us get another safety out of the box. People are going to build an eight- man box against us, a nine-man box against us. That’s the way it’s going to be. It will be no different with Ohio State.”

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