The lights will be bright as the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (1-1 Big Ten, 4-1 overall) take on the undefeated No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0, 5-0) at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 2012 this Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Anytime you get to play at Camp Randall it’s special,” head coach Paul Chryst said. “The night games have been really electric.”
The show will be grand as national entities like ESPN’s Russillo & Kannel roll into town, not to mention the megaship that is ESPN’s College GameDay. It will be the sixth time in the iconic pregame show’s history that it will be in Madison for a Badger Saturday.
UW is returning from a week off after an emotional 14-7 loss to No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor, while OSU is coming off a respectable 38-17 win over Indiana and has managed to stay perfect—though the thicker part of its schedule is yet to come.
Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has a lot of respect for opponents like Wisconsin.
“I can push play and see it's one of the best-coached teams in the United States,” Meyer said.
“We like to use the word culture around here, and I'm sure coach Chryst and coach Alvarez are very proud of the culture at Wisconsin; they should be.”
UW’s struggles against Michigan were mainly offensive, with the defense only allowing a few plays to penetrate its robust fortifications. This week, however, versus a Buckeye offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate J.T. Barrett, the offense will need to deliver.
Chryst is confident the Badgers will bounce back on the shoulders of redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who struggled mightily his last outing against the Wolverines.
“When you know it’s something you’re doing or not doing that you can control, I think that empowers you,” Chryst said.
It will be equally important for the Badgers to get back on track running the ball, at which they have been inconsistent throughout the season. With injuries cycling through the offensive line and in the backfield, they will hope to find some continuity heading into the second half of the season.
In contrast, the Buckeyes offense is currently averaging over 53 points per outing, so the Badgers need to dramatically improve their own average of 26 if they hope to stay in the game. Granted, OSU hasn't played a defense like UW’s, but the Badgers haven’t seen a quarterback like Barrett, either.
Not only does Barrett possess the physical talent to thrive at the quarterback position, but he is a natural leader on and off the field. The redshirt junior has already managed nearly a thousand yards passing and has thrown 15 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions in the first five games of the season.
Luckily for the Badgers, they have one of the best defensive units in the nation for a second consecutive year. Though UW will be without the services of team captain and standout linebacker Vince Biegel, the unit showed in Michigan that it could still stop a potent offense with his replacements.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Camp Randall and will be televised on ABC.
Edit (10/13, 6:40 p.m.): A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that kickoff time is 8 p.m.