Colin: For a team that constantly brags about how much depth and talent they have on offense, why does JT have to carry such a heavy workload against an underdog as Indiana?
Baver: I think it’s an Urban thing (as opposed to Warriner or Beck). It’s been this way since Urban arrived. And there have been a handful of post-games where Urban basically admitted that they ran the QB too much, and didn’t run the tailback enough. Seems like the common themes in these games are: (1) The game is in doubt or closer than it should be, and (2) Urban’s QB isn’t throwing the ball well. Those were certainly the themes against Indiana. But one would have thought they would have gotten Curtis Samuel involved more….it’s big mystery why they didn’t.
Colin: Along the same lines, Indiana used a lot of press coverage and disrespected our WRs ability to beat them one on one. Could this formula work again this week against the Badgers?
Baver: Yeah, I don’t think Wisconsin is going to respect Ohio State’s X and Y receivers…and there’s really no reason to right now. It seems like Noah Brown can’t stay healthy and doesn’t have the speed to beat a DB down field, maybe because of the injuries. The Buckeyes are going to have to have at least some success throwing downfield Saturday night, or they could be in trouble.
Colin: Still, our young D is looking surprisingly strong, how many points can Wisconsin expect to put up on the Bucks without fluky conditions or turnovers?
Baver: If weather plays little to no factor in the game, I would think the Buckeyes hold Wisconsin to 21 or less. Looking at the Vegas spread and over/under, the sportsbooks have the Badgers scoring about 17 pts….sounds ballpark to me. The emergence of Jerome Baker and Nick Bosa is starting to make this Buckeye defense downright scary, and Wisconsin’s offense is anything but scary.
Colin: Camp Randall at night is a bitch. As nice as the Sooners win was, this is a different beast. Especially considering the last time we met, the Bucks won the Big 10 title 59-0 despite entering as underdogs. AND..ESPN Game day is in Madison and all that hype. So on a scale of 1 -10, how tough of a road environment is Camp Randall?
Baver: I’d say 9 ½ outta 10. It’s right up there with Clemson Memorial Stadium and Tiger Stadium (LSU)….maybe a hair behind those two. In terms of the NFL, I’d say Camp Randall is on par with Lambeau Field and CenturyLink Field in Seattle. I don’t think this Buckeye team rattles easily, but if there is a place where that can happen….it’s Camp Randall.
Colin: So final thoughts on the game?
Baver: I’ve stopped doubting Urban period. When you dive into the matchup, i.e. OSU’s run game vs Wisc run D, vice versa, etc…..I think it’s easy to come away thinking this game is a toss-up. But I think 80% of the big plays Saturday night will be made by the scarlet and gray….just too much athleticism on the OSU side. And I don’t think many fans realize what a weapon Cameron Johnson has become, and how much “flipping the field” works in the Buckeye’s favor. I see Ohio State rising to the occasion….I like the Bucks 34-17.
Colin: What other games and lines will you be watching this weekend?
Baver: I’ve made a nice little comeback, hitting 5 of my last 6 to bring me to 9-10 on the season ATS, including hitting the last 3 Buckeye games. With the Madison weather forecast looking not-so-bad as of Thursday night, I think you take the Buckeyes and lay the 10 ½. I think Tennessee may fall apart this week after finally losing a close game…I like Bama laying the 12 ½ in Knoxville. And I like Texas Tech catching a point at home against West Virginia. I think Tech will have added motivation facing a 4-0 Mountaineer team.