Ohio State vs. Wisconsin: This Game, Not Michigan, Is Buckeyes' Toughest Test

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterNovember 13, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Running back Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers stiff arms safety P.J. Smith #13 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

There's a lot of talk about the divisional races in the Big Ten and who plays whom and whether Team A or Team B is set up for the best finish. But thanks to the total lack of drama in the Leaders Division and the total lack of a postseason for Ohio State, there hasn't been a lot of attention paid to the final two games for the Buckeyes and what they might mean.

Here's the thing, though: Ohio State hasn't won that division yet.

The Buckeyes have clinched at least a share of the title with a two-game lead over Wisconsin and two games left to play. One of those two games remaining? Well, that'd be Wisconsin, and you'd better believe the Badgers are gunning for Ohio State.

In fact, Wisconsin poses a tougher challenge for the Buckeyes than Michigan does.

Let's leave aside the obvious: The Wisconsin game is at Camp Randall, while Ohio State gets Michigan at home. That's true and makes the Wisconsin game even tougher, but in some weird alternate universe where all games were at neutral locations, Wisconsin would still be a tougher win for Ohio State than Michigan.

The Badger ground game is absolutely rolling right now, and that's trouble for an Ohio State defensive unit that's just now getting back to full strength. Wisconsin rang up 564 yards rushing on Indiana last week, and yes, it's just Indiana, but still. The notable offensive line woes from the beginning of the season appear to be solved, and if that's the case, we're in for a hell of a game.

That all said, Wisconsin has struggled against elite defensive lines. Michigan State held the Badgers to just 19 rushing yards in Wisconsin's 16-13 loss earlier this season, and in last year's 33-29 thriller, Ohio State held the Badger ground game to just 85 yards.

Meanwhile, much is (rightly) made of Michigan's successes on defense this season. But in terms of stopping the run, nobody has been more successful in the Big Ten than Wisconsin, who allows just 103 yards per game. Ohio State is second on that list, but rest assured that this is going to be an absolute war in the trenches.

According to VegasInsider.com, Wisconsin is actually favored by three points to end Ohio State's undefeated season. That line is subject to change, of course, but the message is clear: Ohio State has its biggest challenge of the season on its hands. You'd better be watching this game come Saturday.