Posted by Adam Jacobi
WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: Russell Wilson hasn't lost his mojo. Wilson had a rough game in Wisconsin's 37-31 loss to Michigan State last week, complete with two very regrettable throws that ended up getting intercepted, but his stats still weren't very bad, and he's still the second-rated passer in the NCAA so far this season, barely trailing Robert Griffin III. That said, for as great as MSU's defense has been all year long, Wilson's not going to get much respite this week -- even though the Buckeyes' defensive production hasn't yet reached its overall talent level yet.
OHIO STATE WILL WIN IF: It gets four quarters of dominance from its defense. Ohio State's biggest win of the season came against Illinois, when it stifled the Illini attack and surrendered all of seven points for the game. In OSU's most embarrassing loss, the defense still only allowed 10 points to the same MSU team that just put 37 on the scoreboard last week. And for two and a half quarters, Nebraska had been bottled up by the Buckeyes, trailing 27-6. We know how that one turned out, of course, but that's the point: If the Buckeyes go hard for 60 minutes, they can effectively shut down just about anybody. And if OSU doesn't bring defensive intensity for the entire game, an offense like Wisconsin's is more than capable of racking up points in a hurry.
X-FACTOR: The crowd. Ohio Stadium has long been the paramount of the Big Ten's arenas, and it's not hard to see why: the place is huge, seating over 100,000 fans, and its double-tiered setup makes those rabid Buckeye partisans even more deafening, which they usually are. Usually. But with OSU's struggles, the fans have been muted at times, even turning downright hostile during the MSU 10-7 victory in the conference opener. If Wisconsin can jump all over the Buckeyes early -- particularly with defensive stops -- the crowd should be a little more hospitable for Russell Wilson and company to run their offense.