No. 3 Ohio State will attempt to add to one of the best resumes in the country this Saturday (10/28/23) as it heads up to Madison to take on Wisconsin. Get Ohio State vs. Wisconsin odds, picks, and predictions below as our best bet is under 44.5 points.
Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Wisconsin Badgers Prediction
This clash between iconic Big Ten giants should be a classic Midwestern defensive battle, which comes as a surprise. During the Urban Meyer and now Ryan Day eras, the Buckeyes have fielded some of the highest-flying offenses in the country, with star quarterbacks dishing the ball out to loaded groups of talented skill players. In many instances, they’ve lacked a defense to match the championship-caliber offense, which has cost them dearly in the postseason at times.
However, the script has flipped this season. The Ohio State defense is one of the nation’s very best, ranking 15th in EPA per play and third in points allowed per game, despite playing top competition like Notre Dame and Penn State. While the Buckeyes defense has been undeniably elite, the offense has slipped tremendously. Marvin Harrison Jr. has been outstanding at wideout, but the rest of the skill group has been a mix of unhealthy and unimpressive. New quarterback Kyle McCord is simply not up to par.
Wisconsin has had to rely again on its defense, as seismic changes on the other side of the ball have not yet paid dividends.
The Badgers parted ways with longtime coach Paul Chryst, bringing in Cincinnati’s rising star Luke Fickell to run the program, and North Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo to fill the same position. Longo has implemented an uptempo, air-based offense. They also transferred in a new quarterback, Tanner Mordecai, a former top prospect who was expected to inject some life into the unit.
Mordecai is currently out with an injury, but even when he was fully healthy, the Wisconsin offense has not shown up. The pass game is barely top-100 in terms of EPA. But the Badgers once again have an excellent defense, especially against the pass. They rank similarly to Ohio State’s unit by most metrics.
In their marquee matchups this season, Ohio State has been an under machine, and it hasn’t been particularly close. The total was set around 54.5 for their trip to Notre Dame. That game ended with a score of 17-14. When they recently played host to Penn State, the number was 48.5, but the final score was 20-12. Wisconsin’s games against other good defenses have been similar. They beat Rutgers 24-13, and lost 15-6 at home against Iowa.
These are two of the best defenses in the country, but the offenses have really struggled. I expect the Buckeyes to get it done, but at a rowdy Camp Randall Stadium, it’s hard to imagine them doing it in style, I absolutely love the under in this one.
Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Wisconsin Badgers Prediction: Under 44.5 (-110)
Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Wisconsin Badgers Best Odds
Ohio State is favored by 14.5 on the road, a big number with a key hook, or -650 on the moneyline compared to +475 for Wisconsin. The total is set at 44.5, with -110 odds on both sides.
Ohio State Buckeyes Vs. Wisconsin Badgers Key Matchups
With two elite defenses set to square off, finding a couple of big plays offensively could be all the difference it takes to win this one. Let’s take a look at how each side might be able to do that.
Ohio State Buckeyes Rushing Offense vs. Wisconsin Badgers Run Defense
In order to win on the road, Ohio State is going to have to overcome its biggest weakness thus far, rushing offense. The Buckeyes rank 95th in rushing EPA per play, and they’ll need to accomplish more on the ground, or else they’ll be forcing McCord to carry the offense. It’s unlikely he will do that against the 12th-best pass defense in the country by EPA. We don’t know yet if TreVeyon Henderson will be good to go. If not, Miyan Williams and Chip Trayanum will really need to step it up, especially Williams, who is averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
Wisconsin’s run defense hasn’t been quite as elite as the pass prevention unit, but it’s still been strong, ranking 34th in the country by EPA per play. Safety Hunter Wohler has been fantastic in coverage, as has top corner Ricardo Hallman, and the pass rush consists of a deep group of solid contributors who can help each other stay fresh and make things uncomfortable for McCord.
Wisconsin Badgers Air Attack vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Pass Defense
If Wisconsin is going to pull off the upset, it’s going to need a holistic effort on offense to make headway against the elite OSU defense. That will mean that the pass game is finally going to have to take the leap it was supposed to this year. That will have to happen with Braedyn Locke at the helm, and while he was fine against Illinois this week, he struggled mightily against Iowa.
He could have another tough day against the teriffic Ohio State defense. That’s a major reason I’m not projecting the upset. The OSU pass rush, headlined by top prospect J.T. Tuimoloau, has been fearsome. Denzel Burke has emerged as possibly the next great Buckeye defensive back. With an inexperienced quarterback and the 109th best receiving group, per PFF, Wisconsin’s pass rush could be in for a disappointing outing.