After a slow start by his standards, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is running through defenses in the last five games just like he did last year–a season in which he was invited to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Over the past five games, Ball has rushed for 773 yards and ten touchdowns. Those numbers are a bit eye-opening, considering he ran for just 453 yards and six touchdowns in Wisconsin’s first five games.
So, what has changed in the second half of the season for Ball?
Well, it starts with the team’s offensive strategy. Wisconsin is one of those teams which does not waiver its style of play year after year. You know exactly what to expect when you play the Badgers.
I think Wisconsin got away from that a bit in its first five games, and it was no accident they were just 3-2 to start the year. But of late the Badgers have gotten back to what they do best. Running the football with their best player, Montee Ball.
We have all seen Ohio State’s defense be susceptible to the big play this season, but a lot of those have come through the passing game.
Ohio State’s defense allows the second fewest rushing yards per game in the Big Ten, allowing 107.9 yards per game.
No doubt, the key to this game for OSU will be its ability to stop Wisconsin’s Montee Ball.
This game has all the makings of a low-scoring, slower paced, Big Ten slugfest. Ohio State knows it cannot play for a B1G Championship this season, but they can still win the Leaders Division outright with a win over the Badgers.
We all remember the game last year. When OSU quarterback Braxton Miller found wide receiver Devin Smith in the end zone, it was the highlight of the 2011 season for the Buckeyes. In that game, though, Ohio State’s defense held Ball to his second-lowest rushing total of the season, 85 yards.
If Ohio State can duplicate that success of stopping the star tailback, the Buckeyes will head into the final game of the season against Michigan still undefeated, with a chance to earn a twelfth victory over that team up north.