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Ohio State enters Big Ten competition

September 30, 2013
By BETTY POKAS - Buckeye Blitz , Times Leader

"SEPTEMBER Song" reveals that "the days grow short when you reach September." Also growing shorter is the list of upcoming football games, but Wisconsin Badgers head football coach Gary Andersen doesn't think Saturday's Badgers-Buckeyes match-up currently is "the so-called championship game" for the Leaders Division as some people believe.

Although football season is progressing, neither team has reached the midpoint in their 12-game schedules but some individuals are bestowing unofficial championship status in the division to the game.

Whether it's possible to look at the game with that sort of importance in September, Andersen replied, "Nope, not from what I've seen from Northwestern and Minnesota and Indiana. I can go on and on and on. There's some good football teams out there ... on our schedule. This is far from a championship game."

Apparently, he has the same opinion about upcoming events as my mother. She was not an expert on football, but her general opinion about future events agreed with the old English proverb, "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip."

It's the Buckeyes' first Big Ten game of the season, and Wisconsin already has faced another Big Ten team - Purdue.

Although OSU's goal is to go through the season undefeated, OSU head football coach Urban Meyer referred to Wisconsin as "King of the Big Ten right now."

After noting Wisconsin has two great backs, he said, "I don't know where the heck they keep getting these guys but they have great backs, and we have our hands full. They have an excellent coach, and in my opinion, they are the King of the Big Ten right now and this is an opportunity to go compete with a team that's competed in the Rose Bowl the last few years."

Meyer said the Badger defense is a lot different from last year, and they are very active. "Last year, they ran; they were not very multiple on defense last year. ... Obviously, they shut us down pretty good last year.

"I think they have got very, very good players that are tough, great technique, sound. They are doing a little more creativity on defense than they did last year."

In regard to preparation for OSU quarterbacks Braxton Miller or Kenny Guiton, Andersen said he doesn't think it matters which one that the Badgers will face. "I don't think it matters, whoever's in there," he explained. "One guy might do this a little better than the other. but you don't look in there and say, OK, here comes this guy or that guy or let's expect this offense or that offense. It's still the same offense regardless."

OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith appears to agree, noting the Buckeyes' offense "doesn't change a ton" regardless of which QB is playing although there may be certain plays preferred when either Miller or Guiton is on the field.

Andersen also said he hasn't watched enough film to have an opinion about the best team in the conference, but OSU "has a good opportunity to be No. 1, just as good an opportunity as anybody does." Indicating he thought Ohio State is a lot better team than a year ago, he added the Buckeyes this year are much more skilled and much faster.

Wisconsin has the nation's active career leader in rushing yards (3,013), rushing touchdowns totaling 35 and 36 total TDs in running back James White and the nation's seasonal leader in rushing yards (624) and rushing average (11.8) in sophomore running back Melvin Gordon.

The Badgers, as a team, rank No. 3 nationally in rushing at 349.8 yards per game, and Ohio State (311.0 ypg) ranks No. 6 in rushing attacks.

OSU leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the NCAA in scoring with 52.5 ppg in addition to leading the Big Ten in passer efficiency (167.00).

Fourteen Ohioans are on the Badgers team, and three of them - Chris Borland, inside lineback from Kettering Archbishop Alter; Jeff Duckworth, wide receiver from Cincinnati Princeton; and Brian Wozniak, tight end from Loveland High School - have earned three letters each. Wozniak was one of the Badgers' four game captains when Wisconsin faced Arizona State.

The Buckeyes have won four of the last five games with the Badgers including the last two. In last year's game between the two teams, Ohio State won when running back Carlos Hyde had a 2-yard scoring run in overtime. Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant batted down Curt Phillips' pass on fourth down to preserve the win.

Wisconsin is 3-1 this season, having defeated UMass, 45-0; Tennessee Tech, 48-0; and Purdue, 41-10, with the only loss being against Arizona State, 32-30, in the final seconds.

OSU is No. 3 in the USA Today/Coaches poll and No. 4 in The Associated Press poll while Wisconsin is No. 24 and No. 23 in the respective polls.


NOT ONLY was Andersen an assistant coach at Utah when Meyer was the head coach there, but there's a connection between two assistant coaches. OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda were college roommates at California Lutheran University.

IT'LL be easy to see red at Saturday's game. Buckeye fans are asked to wear scarlet to "Scarlet Out the 'Shoe." As for Wisconsin, cardinal and white have been generally accepted as the school colors since the 1880s.

COACHING staffs from the two universities will wear "Coach to Cure MD" (muscular dystrophy) patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne MD research, and fans are encouraged to donate online at or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999. This is the sixth annual Coach to Cure MD effort held by the American Football Coaches Association.

SATURDAY'S game, which will begin at 8 p.m., will be aired by ABC.



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