Few rivalries have produced more drama recently than the battles between Ohio State and Wisconsin. The third-ranked Buckeyes, who will host the No. 24 Badgers on Saturday in search of their BCS-best 17th straight victory, needed overtime in their second-to-last game last season to preserve a 12-0 campaign. In 2011, a six-win Ohio State team notched its biggest victory of the year over an 11-3 Wisconsin squad on a go-ahead 40-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller with 20 seconds remaining.
Ohio State cruised through its non-conference schedule and looks to end Wisconsin's three-year run of Rose Bowl berths with its 2012 postseason ban no longer an issue. The Badgers rebounded from their controversial loss at Arizona State two weeks ago with a 41-10 rout of Purdue to open Big Ten play. "The fact that we have gone on the road once and traveled is big for us. … I know it's a tough place to play, but our kids will be prepared," first-year Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Ohio State -7.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten): Melvin Gordon - the conference's Offensive Co-Player of the Week - leads the nation with 624 yards on the ground while his seven rushing touchdowns rank third in the country. He is joined by senior running back James White - who is the FBS' active career leader in rushing yards (3,013) - and ranks 10th nationally this season with 442 yards, keying the third-ranked rushing attack in FBS. "They're great backs and both have a big part in the offense. … and will continue to. It's a great balance," Andersen said.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (4-0, 0-0): Although backup Kenny Guiton has thrown for a school-record 12 touchdowns over the past three weeks in place of Miller (sprained left MCL), coach Urban Meyer will likely turn back to his regular starter. "If Braxton has a good week of practice, he will start. … he is 13-0 as a starter and has done very well with his improvements," Meyer said. Guiton, who shared last week's conference honors with Gordon, led the Buckeyes to an average of 64 points in his two starts.
1. Gordon's career per-carry average (9.9 yards) is the best mark of any player with at least 100 carries in the BCS era (1998-present).
2. Ohio State has the fourth-highest scoring offense in the country (52.5 points).
3. Wisconsin has rushed for 387 yards or more in three of its four games while the Buckeyes - the nation's ninth-best run defense - have held three of their opponents below 73.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 28