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

Badgers.

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

Bielema.

”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

roster.

”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

years.

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

approaching him.

”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

ball.”

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

me.”