Tough Home Test for OSU

Ohio State's most recent victory might have earned it the respect they've been looking for. A win this weekend would certainly further that cause.

The top-ranked Buckeyes can set a record for consecutive Big Ten victories as they host surging Wisconsin on Saturday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Ohio State -14.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Wisconsin +14.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) passed its first true test, winning 37-17 at then-No. 24 Penn State last Saturday night. The Buckeyes look for their 20th straight conference victory dating to a 17-10 loss to the Nittany Lions on Oct. 8, 2005.

A win Saturday would break the mark set by Michigan from 1990-92.

"They're a good team. I'm not going to deny them, I'm going to give them credit,'' Penn State defensive end Josh Gaines said. "They're a great team.''

The Buckeyes are playing like a serious national contender, a notion that has been questioned because of Ohio State's relatively easy non-conference schedule and their dominance against an average Big Ten slate.

"We keep on winning, and that'll take care of itself,'' said Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman, who finished 19-of-26 for 253 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against Penn State.

The Buckeyes can do that by taking care of Wisconsin (7-2, 3-2), which looks for a third straight victory - since falling out of the Top 25 after road losses to Illinois and Penn State - and a third win in a row over Ohio State. This will be the teams' first meeting since a 24-13 Badgers' win at Ohio Stadium on Oct. 9, 2004.

Ohio State won 19-14 at Wisconsin on Oct. 19, 2002, for its most recent victory in the series.

"We have to prove whatever we are at the end of 2007, so we're nine games out of 12 we're through," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We've got a lot to prove beginning with game 10.''

Ohio State should have plenty of confidence as it returns for its final two home games before a much-anticipated finale at Michigan on Nov. 17.

Boeckman, who is third nationally with a 164.3 passer rating, paced the Buckeyes at Penn State. He threw for a career high in yards and was sacked just once against one of the country's top defenses. The junior has thrown for 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Running back Chris Wells rushed 25 times for 133 yards against Penn State and needs four yards to reach 1,000. The sophomore has rushed for 354 on 56 carries in his last two contests.

Ohio State, which will try to win its 28th straight regular season game, has also remained undefeated because of its defense which leads the nation allowing an average of 8.8 points per game and conceding only 214.5 yards per contest.

While the Buckeyes are expected to be in for a challenge against a Wisconsin offense that has outscored its last two opponents - Northern Illinois and Indiana - by a 77-6 margin, they could catch a break if Badger running back P.J. Hill is unable to play.

Hill suffered a lower leg bruise in the first quarter of a 33-3 victory over Indiana last Saturday and his status for this weekend is uncertain.

"It was very, very sensitive and sore,'' Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "We're encouraged that there wasn't any structural damage, just a bruise and hopefully it's something we can get through in a short amount of time.''

The sophomore, who has rushed for 1,066 yards, has 29 rushing TDs in 22 collegiate games. If he is unable to play, freshman Zach Brown will likely fill in. Hill's backup Lance Smith, who rushed for two TDs last week, is suspended from road games after an altercation this summer.

Brown rushed for a career-high 40 yards on 14 carries and his first touchdown against Indiana.

"My feeling is you're going to see a very excited No. 30, whether he gets one rep, 30 carries, whatever it is,'' Bielema said of Brown.

Even with Hill on the field, Wisconsin will be in for a major test as it tries to avoid losing three straight conference road games for the first time since Oct. 12-Nov. 16, 1996.

The Badgers, though, will try for a fourth straight victory at Ohio Stadium since 1996. No Big Ten team has won four straight at Ohio State since Illinois accomplished the feat from 1988-94.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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