COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)Ryan Day has an idea of how Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst feels right now.
Unassuming Illinois sneaked up on the then-No. 6 Badgers last week and likely ruined what was starting to look like a steady climb into College Football Playoff contention.
Day, the first-year Ohio State coach, feels Chryst’s pain. He was on Urban Meyer’s staff when the Buckeyes were upset by Iowa in 2017 and then by Purdue in 2018. Both times the inexplicable midseason defeats cut deep, pushing Ohio State just outside the playoff picture at the end.
And Day knows Wisconsin’s loss will make the Badgers (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten), who slipped to a No. 13 ranking, even more resolute Saturday when they visit the Horseshoe to face the No. 3 Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0). Day hasn’t ”let one slip away” so far as a head coach and wants to avoid it.
”I read a few of the articles saying they have something to prove more and more as we get closer to this game,” Day said. ”It’s going to take everything we have to win this thing.”
Chryst said he’s confident his team can shake off the disappointment and get the season back on the rails. There was no panic or sorrow, he said.
”It’s the first time this group this season lost, and yet I appreciated where they were at and how they approached it,” he said.
”Any time you come off a loss, the beauty of it is you have the right to choose what your response is as a team and a member of this team,” center Tyler Biadasz said. ”We have that vibe where the backbone of this university and this team is to ball up your fist and fight back and do whatever you can to get that win. It’s going to be a grind, and we’re going to grind this one out.”
IRON ON IRON
Want some drama?
The nation’s top two defenses will be charged with stopping two of the nation’s best running backs.
Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense has given up just 2.18 rushing yards per carry, and Ohio State’s second-ranked unit 2.56.
Ohio State tailback J.K. Dobbins ranks fourth nationally with 947 yards – 10 fewer than Wisconsin’s Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor. Dobbins averages more than 7 yards a carry and Taylor a little over 6 yards, so something will have to give.
”It’s like him and his offense versus our defense, and me and our offense versus him and his defense,” Taylor said. ”It’s a factor of who’s going to make some plays. The biggest thing that you understand is that we’re both competitors. You see him make a big play, and you want to make a big play. You see me make a big play, and he wants to make a big play. That’s the type of competitors that we are, so it’s going to be fun.”
Both quarterbacks likely will be running for their lives at times.
Ohio State is tied for second nationally with 29 sacks, and monster defensive end Chase Young is tied for most in the nation individually with 9.5.
Wisconsin has 27, with fine linebackers Chris Orr and Zack Baun accounting for a combined 14.5.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, amid his gaudy numbers and ground-game heroics, tends to give up sacks at times when he waits just a tick too long to try to make a play. But mostly he makes good decisions and few mistakes.
”He is very athletic,” Baun said. ”He can make every throw on the field. He’s good at escaping the pocket and making plays.”
HE SAID IT
Taylor was asked how Wisconsin fans are supposed to react to the devastating Illinois loss: ”Really, I would just have to tell them you should go look up the Wisconsin Badgers 2019 football schedule and you’ll see some more games listed there,” he said.
Day said this week that injured LB Baron Browning, who did not make the trip to Northwestern, is ”looking good.” OT Josh Alabi is out, and DE Jonathan Cooper and WR Austin Mack are game-time decisions. Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal and FB Mason Stokke are questionable with concussion-related injuries.
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