Badgers confident after seeing Indiana vs. OSU
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale didn’t stray far from football during his team’s bye week.
The senior watched every game he could on TV while spending time at home with his family and friends. He seemed interested in one team in particular, No. 2 Ohio State.
Ogunbowale gets to see the Buckeyes in person Saturday night when they visit Camp Randall Stadium for a primetime showdown against the eighth-ranked Badgers.
“The defense looks athletic,” Ogunbowale said Monday.
But perhaps slightly vulnerable, at least for the high standards set by the Buckeyes, who beat Indiana 38-17 last week.
Indiana stayed within a touchdown of Ohio State until late in the third quarter, and threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns at the Horseshoe.
Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten), though, runs a completely different offense. The Badgers are out to push people around in the running game and dominate the line of scrimmage.
“It’s always tough to watch offenses that do a lot of things differently from you,” Ogunbowale said. “But at the same time, we saw that Indiana played hard and they had success.”
The rested Badgers are coming off their first loss of the season , two weeks ago at Michigan. Wisconsin has a defense that can go big play-for-big play with Ohio State, even with outside linebacker Vince Biegel sidelined with a foot injury.
But the Badgers could use more production out of their running game.
Senior tailback Corey Clement is averaging 3.9 yards a carry, 2 yards less than his career average. He has missed a game because of a sore ankle, and backup running backs Taiwan Deal and Bradrick Shaw have been hurt, too.
Injuries have sidelined two left guards, forcing coach Paul Chryst to shuffle the interior of his line.
Yet Wisconsin has still played well, especially given that it has already faced the tough defenses of LSU, Michigan State and Michigan.
“We’ve played against good teams, but that’s no excuse,” said Ogunbowale.
The passing game is a work in progress with freshman Alex Hornibrook scheduled to make just his third career start.
In Ogunbowale, Hornibrook has an experienced third-down back and effective check-down option. But the 5-foot-11 Clement has the potential to break away on any run.
“He’s a perfect back for their offense,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said, “and they’ve had a long line of them.”
Chryst coached a few stellar backs during an earlier stint at Wisconsin as offensive coordinator, including Montee Ball and P.J. Hill. He’d love to get a few more explosive plays out of Clement, Ogunbowale and his other backs.
“I think there (have) been a few instances where we’ve been trying to take the explosive run instead of just taking what’s there,” Chryst said. “And I think the explosive runs are byproducts of just doing your job well, and then you break a tackle and it ends up increasing.”