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OSU-Wisconsin scouting report

October 14, 2010
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

QUARTERBACKS

OHIO STATE - Terrelle Pryor has come a long way since his last visit to Madison. Pryor was a true freshman when he quarterbacked the Buckeyes to a 20-17 victory over the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 4, 2008. Pryor was tentative then, but he was 11-of-19 for 144 yards and ran for a touchdown. The difference maker, however, was Beanie Wells, who ran for 168 yards and a TD. Pryor has to make the difference this time.

WISCONSIN - Scott Tolzien has been more of a caretaker than a difference maker for the Badgers. But with a huge line and talented running backs, that's what Wisconsin wants in a QB. Even so, Tolzien has looked good, completing almost 70 percent of his passes (92 of 132) for 1,201 yards and seven TDs. He has thrown just two interceptions. But compared to Pryor, Tolzien is a statue in the pocket.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

RUNNING BACKS

OHIO STATE - The Buckeyes don't have Wells anymore, and the focus of the running game has shifted to Pryor. Junior Dan Herron isn't flashy, but leads OSU with 355 yards and seven TDs. If the game is tight late in the second half, expect Herron on the field. Brandon Saine has had more than nine carries only once this season, and has just 183 yards. Jaamal Berry has had fewer than half of Saine's carries and has rushed for 219 yards.

WISCONSIN - John Clay is a workhorse. He is Wells-like in his combination of size and speed. Clay has 692 yards and nine TDs on 115 carries. Only Michigan QB Denard Robinson and Illinois RB Mikel Leshoure have more yards than Clay among Big Ten rushers. Freshman James White is a threat, too. He has averaged almost eight yards per carry and has 485 yards and eight TDs.

EDGE - Badgers.

RECEIVERS

OHIO STATE - Pryor really spread the ball around against Indiana, completing passes to eight different receivers. DeVier Posey had eight catches and is up to 26 for the season, one behind Dane Sanzenbacher. Each had a TD catch last week. The Buckeyes also made use of Saine in the passing game. He had four catches for 84 yards, including a 60-yard TD.

WISCONSIN - Tight end Lance Kendricks is Tolzien's favorite target with 25 catches for a 15.6-yard average and three TDs. But with Nick Toon, Isaac Anderson and David Gilreath, the Badgers have some talented receivers. Freshman Jared Abbrederis is second on the team with 15 catches. With the Buckeyes' depth in the secondary thin, this could be the week Wisconsin tries to open it up.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

OFFENSIVE LINE

OHIO STATE - When the season started, some members of this unit were quoted as saying they wanted to be the best offensive line in the country. It hasn't happened yet. Left tackle Mike Adams was the top lineman against Indiana, but it doesn't seem like this group pushes opposing defensive lines backward often. This would be a good week for the Buckeyes to establish control up front.

WISCONSIN - Badgers coach Bret Bielema loves big offensive linemen. The "smallest" lineman on Wisconsin's two-deep chart is freshman backup left guard Ryan Groy, who at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds, sometimes changes numbers and lines up at fullback. The Badgers' starting linemen average 6-5 and 320 pounds, and have 110 combined starts between them.

EDGE - Badgers.

DEFENSIVE LINE

OHIO STATE - The Buckeyes did not sack an Indiana quarterback once last week despite 35 pass attempts by the Hoosiers. End Nathan Williams and tackle Dexter Larimore are the team leaders with 1.5 sacks each. Ohio State needs a member of its front four to have a monster game and get pressure on Tolzien. Wisconsin QBs have been sacked just five times in six games.

WISCONSIN - End J.J. Watt is tied for second on the team with 30 tackles and leads the Badgers with 8.5 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and four QB hurries. He's 6-6, so he can disrupt passing lanes. Watt also is tied for the team lead with two sacks. Louis Nzegwu, the other end, has 23 tackles and two sacks.

EDGE - Badgers.

LINEBACKERS

OHIO STATE - Look for some blitzing as the Buckeyes try to bring pressure on Tolzien and disrupt the Badgers' ground game. Ross Homan has a team-best 37 tackles and Brian Rolle is second with 30. Andrew Sweat, who often goes to the sideline when the Buckeyes employ the "star," an extra defensive back, should be on the field more against the run-oriented Badgers.

WISCONSIN - Seniors Culmer St. Jean and Blake Sorenson have combined for 63 tackles, including a team-high 33 by St. Jean. Sophomore Mike Taylor has missed a game, but still has 26 stops and is second with six tackles for loss. The linebackers are part of a defense that has allowed only one rushing touchdown through six games.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

OHIO STATE - Cornerback Devon Torrence had one of three interceptions by the Buckeyes against Indiana. Backup Dominic Clarke had another pick late in the game. Wisconsin is going to look to pick on freshman Christian Bryant, Tyler Moeller's replacement at the star spot. The Badgers also will try to get favorable matchups for Kendricks, especially in the red zone.

WISCONSIN - Herron and Sanzenbacher probably don't remember much about the Buckeyes' 2008 victory in Madison, as Badgers safety Jay Valai knocked both players out of the game with vicious hits. At 5-9 and 205 pounds, Valai is never the biggest player on the field, but like former Ohio State safety Jack Tatum was in the 1970s, Valai might be the most feared hitter in the Big Ten.

EDGE - Badgers.

SPECIALISTS

OHIO STATE - Can the Buckeyes just stop with the Drew Basil experiment and just let Devin Barclay (11-of-12, long of 42) attempt long field goals? Basil has been unable to get the ball over the line of scrimmage on both of his attempts, and both were blocked. Berry and Jordan Hall could be primed for big plays in the return game, for reasons we'll address below.

WISCONSIN - The Buckeyes' coverage teams have been criticized all season, but the Badgers might be worse. Wisconsin is allowing an average of 18 yards per punt return and 23.2 per kickoff return. The Badgers have given two returns for TDs. Philip Welch is 7-of-9 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards. Punter Brad Nortman averages 42.6 yards.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

PREDICTION

OHIO STATE 19, WISCONSIN 13 - These games are usually played close to the vest. This one will be no exception.

epuskas@tribtoday.com

 
 

 

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