Wisconsin believes stage set for No. 1 Ohio State
Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien says he’s seen his teammates
unbelievably focused this week in preparation for No. 1 Ohio State.
He wonders why it can’t always be this way for the 18th-ranked
Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) has embraced the hype surrounding
the first visit from a top-ranked to Camp Randall Stadium since
1997, and the program is looking for a signature win for coach Bret
”It’s going to be the turning point in the season,” running
back James White said. ”When you take out a No. 1, it catches
everybody’s eye. You get national exposure everywhere. It would be
a real good experience.”
The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) believe it’s really just another day as
an elite program. Ohio State has won eight of 11 road games in the
Big Ten at night under coach Jim Tressel and being No. 1 at
midseason isn’t a goal.
”Regardless of where we’re ranked, it happens to be No. 1 right
now, if we don’t get better, we’ll be lower than that,” the coach
said. ”We kind of believe here that there’s a permanent bulls-eye.
I don’t know if there’s more added or less if we don’t win a game
and get moved down in the rankings. I would think that that
bulls-eye is permanent.”
Bielema doesn’t have a defining win in the five years since he
became the hand-picked successor to Barry Alvarez, now the
athletics director. He’s acknowledged just how much he wants to
beat the Buckeyes before, but he’s also never had a team as
talented as this group.
Still, Ohio State appears faster and more athletic.
”They got my vote,” Bielema said of who he put No. 1 on his
coaches’ poll ballot. ”In recruiting, it’s just always
interesting, because they are getting the guys that they want. They
pretty much, at least in the Midwest, they get their people.”
Bielema said he and his staff are always amazed by Ohio State’s
”We’ll see all these guys listed in their two-deep (or) they’re
not even playing, and they were guys who were high on our
recruiting list,” he said. ”It really seems a lot of times to be
especially on the defense side of the ball.”
Those defensive stars have tormented the Badgers in recent
Ohio State had 10 sacks in 2007, two in ’08. The Buckeyes had
six more in last year’s matchup and two interceptions returned for
touchdowns in a 31-13 win.
The Buckeyes also have throttled Wisconsin’s power running
attack, which this year features reigning Big Ten offensive player
of the year John Clay and a new wrinkle in the freshman White.
White has eight touchdowns in the last three games and is
deceptively quick. Bielema has praised White’s ability to read the
defense and cut back for positive yards.
”We’ll see what our team is made of now,” Clay said. ”They’re
always at the top of the totem pole … to be able to knock them
out, off the throne would be a good thing for this team.”
That starts with containing Terrelle Pryor, who has been sharp
throwing the ball this season and it’s changed the way defenses are
”He can make you miss and make you look stupid, so you need to
use your keys, don’t lose leverage,” Wisconsin linebacker Mike
Taylor said. ”He is big and fast, so everybody needs to run to the
Ohio State believes the program isn’t liked when it reaches the
top spot in the polls.
”We’re Ohio State. Everyone wants to beat us every week
anyway,” offensive lineman Justin Boren said. ”Each week we’re
going to get everyone’s best shot. It’s crazy.”
Crazy, too, will be the atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium. More
than double the number of media credentials were handed out
compared to a regular rivalry game and there’s a good chance that
it’ll be the biggest crowd in the stadium’s 93-year history.
When Pryor was a freshman, Ohio State beat Wisconsin 20-17 in
2008 on Pryor’s TD run with just over a minute to play. Wisconsin
controlled the clock in 2009, but lost 31-13. The Badgers believe
those mistakes won’t happen again.
”The stage is set really,” Taylor said. ”So many people are
going to be watching.”
And that’s just the type of spotlight the Buckeyes relish.
”I don’t play football to be No. 2,” wide receiver DeVier
Posey said. ”There’s no fear in me, no fear in the guys around