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Is Ohio State officially on upset alert against the Wisconsin Badgers?
The Badgers blew out New Mexico State 66-7 Saturday in Madison, and for the first time all season, it looked like Paul Chryst and company were playing Wisconsin football.
Now, a matchup against the Buckeyes will happen this Saturday under the lights in Columbus. It’s the kind of game fans dream about.
Can Wisconsin do the unthinkable and beat Ohio State?
The Buckeyes are -16.5 favorites as of early Sunday, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be. Ohio State is 3-0, beat Notre Dame to open the season and followed up that victory with blowout wins over Arkansas State and Toledo to the tune of a combined 122-33.
C.J. Stroud and his OSU teammates look unstoppable. The star quarterback and likely top NFL pick is averaging more than 300 passing yards a game and nearly four passing touchdowns a matchup. He’s also not thrown an interception through three games.
Judging from the eye test, the Buckeyes should be just fine.
Why should anyone believe in the Badgers?
Now, why are we even here if OSU is so unstoppable? Well, there are some things working in Wisconsin’s favor.
Even though we lost a humiliating game to Washington State, the Badgers have only given up 21 points and a total of 738 yards. That breaks down to just 246 yards on average through three games.
To make matters more interesting, Wisconsin is only giving up 76 yards a game on the ground. Granted, the Badgers haven’t played a great team and the one competent team we did play – Washington State – beat us.
Even being 2-1, the stats are the stats and it’s possible the WSU loss will be an outlier by the time we look back at the end of the year. What we do know for sure is Wisconsin will be the best defense OSU likely faces all season, and we all know a great defense can tip the scales in unexpected fashion.
It will likely all come down to QB Graham Mertz.
Over the past couple years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger critic of Graham Mertz than me. His 2020 and 2021 seasons were nothing short of abysmal at times.
However, he’s greatly improved in 2022, and it’s obvious he put in a ton of work during the offseason. For the first time in his career, he’s strung together three very solid games and he looks like the player we all expected him to be.
If Mertz can get things going early against Ohio State, it will open up the running game, which is our true bread and butter.
If he plays like he did Saturday night against NMSU, Ohio State will at least have to think before stacking the box. From there, anything is possible.
Will the Badgers actually get the job done against Ohio State? Well, we’re -16.5 point underdogs for a reason, but once you dig into the numbers, there are reasons to be optimistic.
To put it bluntly, I’ve managed to trick myself, yet again, into believing a huge upset is brewing. I’ll probably drop an official prediction later in the week (need even more time to hype myself up), but for now, I smell a lot of anger in Columbus Saturday night.
In case it’s not clear, Ohio State should definitely be on upset alert. If that claim makes me delusional, so be it. Welcome to life as a Wisconsin fan.
Make sure to catch the game at 7:30 EST on ABC. You all know I’ll be locked in!