Ten things that must happen for Wisconsin to pull off a shocking upset at Ohio State




 

The day is here, and the Badgers are attempting to do something they haven't done for 12 years.

The Galactic Empire of the Big Ten stands in their way in Columbus, and the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes are heavily favored on Saturday night. In order for the Badgers to have a chance, there is a laundry list of things that have to go their way.

From C.J. Stroud under center to the best wide receivers room in the country, the Ohio State offense possesses some of the most dangerous weapons in the nation. Consider this as a checklist for a shocking Wisconsin win:

Win time of possession by at least 10 minutes

 

Apr 17, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud (7) during the annual spring game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

How was a Notre Dame team that lost to Marshall the following week able to stay in the game against Ohio State? They kept the offense off the field. This falls on both sides of the ball, but primarily on Wisconsin's offense to lengthen drives and keep the Buckeyes weapons sidelined.

Notre Dame ended up losing the possession battle, and Wisconsin will almost surely have to win in it to come out on top.

Win the turnover battle

 

Sep 17, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Skyler Bell (11) rushes with the football after catching a pass during the second quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This one feels obvious, but we've already seen the turnover bug bite Wisconsin at the worst time this season. The Badgers have the ability to force them, but can they take care of the ball themselves?

Get to C.J. Stroud early and often

 

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch

The Badgers are facing a different type of elite quarterback than they saw the last time they faced Ohio State. Stroud does not have Justin Fields' ability to extend plays and scramble, but can sit in the pocket and destroy just about any defense in the nation if given the time.

In Jim Leonhard's 3-4 defense it largely falls on the linebackers to create pressure, and Nick Herbig should be at the center of it all.

The best special teams game in the last five years

 

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The decision to not have a designated special teams coach has been criticized, but Wisconsin will have to somehow put together a near-perfect performance in all three phases. Sure, the offense has some concerns, but the phase with the biggest issues is special teams. You can't miss field goals and lose yardage in the return game with the quality of an opponent like Ohio State.

Graham Mertz can't miss much

 

Sep 17, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you'd asked me three weeks ago whether or not Mertz would be up to the task, I would have probably given a very different answer.

We've seen very real improvements from the third-year starter. The junior has sprayed it around well, throwing 6 touchdowns to just a pair of interceptions at this point in the season. For the first time in his career, he has thrown for at least 215 yards in three consecutive games.

Wisconsin needs to see Illinois debut Mertz, who didn't seem interested in missing a throw.

The offensive line has to return to form

 

Oct 23, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) is congratulated by Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Tyler Beach (65) and Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Jack Nelson (79) after scoring a touchdown during the game at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State game had a myriad of issues, but arguably the most concerning one long-term was the play of the offensive line.

The Badger group turned it around against an inferior opponent last week, but can they play like a line of old? This has been Wisconsin's identity for multiple decades, but in recent seasons the line hasn't quite been up to par.

Braelon Allen has to break one

 

Sep 17, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) rushes for a touchdown during the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We need to see a signature Braelon Allen run on Saturday night. The 18-year-old star must put together a signature moment for Wisconsin to stay in this one early.

Call an unpredictable game on offense

 

Sep 17, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the third quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Engram and crew have to mix it up on Saturday night. The first down run formula won't work against this defense if it's all we see.

We spoke with Buckeyes Wire's Phil Harrison about the biggest issue for Ohio State's defense, and he quickly mentioned putting the Buckeyes secondary in single coverage. Ohio State has lost a number of those individual matchups early, and Wisconsin will have to find Keontez Lewis, Skyler Bell, and Chimere Dike in space.

The secondary plays the game of their lives

 

Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Ricardo Hallman (2) celebrates with cornerback Max Lofy (12) following an interception during the first quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers' new-look secondary has to have the game of their lives on Saturday night. Injuries and winning in one-on-one situations has been an issue early in the year, but Wisconsin can't afford to let the Ohio State wide receivers do what they do best.

 

Get aggressive on fourth down

 

You have to keep Ohio State off the field, and in fourth-and-short situations Wisconsin has to get aggressive. You didn't come here to play not to lose to the No. 3 team in the nation.

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire

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