CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to take the snap against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 3 Ohio State: What to watch for

Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 3 Ohio State: What to watch for

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) will hit the road to take on the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) on Saturday, September 24th, at Ohio Stadium.

Following a 66-7 win against the New Mexico State Aggies, the Badgers will look to take down a talented Buckeyes team to kick off conference play.

Here are some items worth watching for in week 4:

Will the Badgers continue their strong play against a formidable opponent?

In Wisconsin’s week three matchup against New Mexico State, the Badgers had a complete game in all three phases. Although it was against a far inferior opponent, Wisconsin kept its foot on the gas through all four quarters.

Heading into week four, the Badgers face an incredible challenge.
Ohio State has put together some fantastic performances. While the competition wasn’t as tough as it gets, the Buckeyes have found the answers on both sides of the ball.

The Ohio State offense comes into Saturday’s matchup averaging 565.3 yards per game, the most in all of college football. Conversely, the Buckeye’s defense has allowed an average of 14.3 points per game.

The Badgers face a tall order in taking on this dynamic offense. UW will need to lean on its stars like Keeanu Benton, Nick Herbig, and Maema Njongmeta to keep themselves in the game.

On the flip side, the Badger’s offense will need another excellent performance from their quarterback Graham Mertz. The redshirt junior is coming off of an impressive game where he completed 12 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. If the Badgers hope to take down a tough Ohio State team, they will need another strong showing from their QB1.

One question remains, will the Badgers continue with the same level of play against a more challenging opponent in Ohio State?

How will the Badger’s defense slow down CJ Stroud?

Buckeye’s quarterback CJ Stroud has been nothing short of spectacular to begin the season. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback boasts a remarkable stat line of 941 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Furthermore, the junior boasts a QB rating of 94.6, the third-highest rating in the nation.

The Badger’s defense has been sound all season long, and the defense has allowed just eight points per game to begin the season. However, they have not faced a quarterback like Stroud.

The secondary will be key in this game. Cornerbacks Jay Shaw and Alexander Smith may have their work cut out for them going against Ohio State’s strong receiving core. The secondary will be responsible for playing physically and forcing Stroud to make mistakes through the air.

Another group that must contribute is the Badger’s talented pass rushers, and one player to keep an eye on will be Nick Herbig. The junior linebacker is the Badger’s current sack leader with four sacks. Herbig has wreaked havoc on offensive lines in the past three weeks, and he will need to once again in week four.

It remains to be seen how the Badgers will find the answers to slow down Stroud, but it will be a key item to watch in Saturday’s matchup.

Will Isaac Guerendo be more involved?

The Badgers are known for producing talented running backs. Their running back room includes the two-headed monster of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi, but it seems that Isaac Guerendo has played third fiddle in the rotation.

Guerendo, a senior out of Indiana, has had a solid season despite a smaller workload. The 6-foot, 223-pound running back boasts a stat line of 17 carries for 91 yards and three touchdowns.

Against New Mexico State, Guerendo logged 12 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Although it was against an inferior opponent, the Indiana native showed plenty of promise.

The sample size has been relatively small, but Guerendo has shown that he is a dynamic back. The senior shows promise as a power runner while also having the speed to break out on the outside.

The Badgers have one of the deepest running back rooms in the nation, and getting Guerendo more involved could lead to success.

While he may not get a lot of carries out of the backfield, his speed could be useful on jet sweeps or screen passes to the outside.

It remains to be seen if Guerendo will be more involved, but after an impressive game against New Mexico State, we may see a higher workload from the senior running back.

While watching Wisconsin’s offense this weekend, keep an eye out for Guerendo and if he gets more touches.

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