The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) will face their biggest challenge of the season on Saturday when they travel to Columbus, Ohio and face the No. 3 Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0).
The Badgers’ undefeated season came to a screeching halt last weekend in a 24–23 loss to Head Coach Lovie Smith and the Illinois Fighting Illini.
It was a disappointing result after Head Coach Paul Chryst and the Badgers were both the sixth ranked team in the country and poised to compete for a College Football Playoff spot come December.
Regardless, the season goes on, and the Badgers’ playoff hopes aren’t dead just yet.
To make the playoffs, the team will need to begin by shocking the world and winning in Columbus Saturday. This is no doubt a tall task — but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Here’s what the Badgers will need to do to win on Saturday.
First, they will need to play the perfect Wisconsin-brand game by controlling the clock and dominating time of possession.
The Ohio State University comes into the contest with arguably the most dynamic offense in the country led by quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins.
To have a chance to win the game Wisconsin will need to dominate both lines of scrimmage and minimize the number of possessions in the game, keeping the ball out of Fields’ hands as much as possible.
They obviously need to score a lot to win on Saturday, but having long possessions and keeping Fields on the sideline is arguably the most important thing this offense can accomplish.
Second, Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan will need to have the game of his life.
Coan comes into Saturday after arguably the best performance of his career with 264 total yards and a completion rate of 75%. Other than making a crucial mistake at the end of the game that allowed Illinois to kick a game winning field goal, Coan had an extremely solid outing statistically.
He will need to be nearly perfect for the Badgers to pull off the upset, a tough task against cornerback Jeffrey Okudah and The Ohio State University’s elite secondary.
Third, the Badger defense will need to rebound after a subpar performance against Illinois and shut down Dobbins and the Buckeye offense.
The Ohio State University comes into the contest averaging 49.7 points-per-game and boasts an offensive efficiency rating of 97 — both of these statistics are better than any other team in Division I football.
They have weapons on the outside, a dynamic running back and Fields — the first quarterback the Badgers will have faced this season that is a significant threat on the ground.
If the Badger defense can contain Fields, keep Dobbins from having the explosive plays he is used to having and force multiple turnovers, they have a chance at winning the game.
Answers will come and the Badgers’ path this season will become more evident once the game kicks off at 11 a.m. CST in Columbus, Ohio on FOX. Gus Johnson will be on the call, so get ready for some excitement one way or another.