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.
There are winning games ugly, and then there is what Ohio State’s victory over Illinois was. Four total pass attempts, one completed pass, and plenty of runs made the Buckeyes’ win in Champaign about as unattractive as a win can get.
The bye week provided plenty of retrospect for the team, the fans, and pundits alike. There is plenty to ponder as we barrel towards the end of the regular season. As unlikely as it might seem, Ohio State still has an opportunity to win the Leaders Division if they were to win all of their remaining games.
That task is not without its pitfalls especially starting this week against the Wisconsin Badgers, who are coming off a 37-31 loss at the hands of Michigan State. If there was an opportunity to knock the boys from Madison off, I thought the best case scenario would be off of a tough loss to Sparty. Since this writer turned out to be Nostradamus on the first part, let’s just see if step number two will come to fruition this Saturday. With that, let’s dive into a little Scarlet and Gray Q&A.
What kind of positive momentum does the win at Illinois provide?
In short, it provides a lot. This might seem like a no brainer but there seemed to be plenty of positive ways to look at the game. Rewind to two Saturdays ago, and you might recall the high winds that wreaked havoc on offensive game plans that day. While there is some room to debate how much the elements affected the Buckeyes offensive game plan, it had to have some effect on how few passing plays were called. Read More
“You are never as bad as you look, but you are never as good as you look either. The truth is you are somewhere in the middle.”
It is an old sports adage that has elevated the feelings of a downtrodden team or brought the lofty dreams of a fan base crashing back to reality.
I opened last weekend’s piece saying it would be easy to ignore how bad the Buckeyes looked in South Beach, and it would be easy to dismiss how good the team looked against Colorado.
Reality and perception might be far apart as to how good Ohio State was against Colorado, but the 180 degrees this team turned in a week was an impressive feat.
Sure, Colorado look bewildered the first quarter and half of football. When you play that bad on special teams, it is pretty easy for the opponent to seize momentum and never look back.
As Ohio State rolls towards a showdown with Sparty in the ‘Shoe, it is time to address some of the more pressing questions from Buckeye nation after a solid win.
What should people think of Braxton Miller’s performance against Colorado?
This is one of the more difficult questions that were asked after the game last weekend. The numbers were solid. The freshman sensation had 83 yards rushing and threw for two scores. The touchdowns were some of the few highlights the passing game produced. Miller was 5-13 for just 83 yards passing. In his defense, however, he was victim of a few dropped passes.
On the surface it is clear there are still some issues in the passing game, but at the end of the day the numbers were tolerable, especially when there were no turnovers by Miller. Even Terrelle Pryor threw an interception is his first start at quarterback. Read More
We’re less than 36 hours from the opener so it’s time to find out what the BBC staff is hoping to see.
And if you got a silly grin on your face reading “less than 36 hours from the opener”, you’ll feel right at home.
- 400 yards rushing. I channeled my inner “no accountability” national broadcaster in the podcast by predicting 400 yards on the ground, so what the hell, I’d like to see it.
- No sacks. Protecting the new QB on the edge is my number one concern this season. Not giving up a sack against Akron would make me feel a little better about this. It would also mean that the QBs are making smart decisions and not holding onto the ball.
- Defense. After watching the defense in practice, I just want to see them on the field. They are going to be good.
- Carmen Ohio. I want to see the team singing Carmen Ohio in front of the south stands after the game led by Coach Fickell. I won’t be at the stadium, so this one is the least likely of all of the things I’d like to see.