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Wisconsin Football Analytics: Get to Know the Ohio State Buckeyes



Wisconsin football; Badgers head coach Luke Fickell leads team onto the field at Camp Randall Stadium

It’s almost gameday, and I’m back to bring you an “Analytics” Preview of Wisconsin Football and their Matchup vs. Ohio State!

If you missed it, read my Analytics Recap of Game 7 vs. Illinois

But let’s dive into our matchup vs. the Buckeyes

Ohio State Offense:

Personnel Grouping & Play-Mix:

Ohio State, much like Illinois did last week, primarily deploys two Personnel groupings. 11 Personnel (1RB | 1TE) and 12 Personnel (1RB | 2TE), when in 11 Personnel, the Buckeyes are much more balanced—passing “only” 58% of the time and Running 42%.

While in 12 Personnel, that Run/Pass Mix changes to become more predictable. With 64% Run to 36% Pass. So, if we see 2TE sets, we can assume they will likely run the ball.

Route concepts:

Ohio State runs a ton of Curls and Out Routes, nearly 27% of all Pass ATTs! An additional 26% of their Pass ATTs come on Slants, Digs, and Drags. All of these routes, except Drags, are higher than 4.20 Yards/ATT.

So, Ohio State although not as adept a Passing Team as those more recent Teams led by Fields and Stroud. Is still able to push the ball downfield much better than any team we’ve faced since Washington State.

For context, roughly ~70% of Illinois Pass ATTs were less than 5 Air Yards/ATT on Average. Ohio State is nearly the opposite with 63% of their ATTs were more than 5 Air Yards/ATT.

To Kyle McCord’s credit, he’s an extremely capable QB. While he’s certainly as good as Stroud or Fields (Good news for Wisconsin). I say he’s capable from the standpoint that he doesn’t fall off drastically from an On-TGT % as he pushes the ball downfield. But when you look at his On-TGT % vs. Fields and Stroud on those shorter throws, he is much less accurate!

Ohio State vs. Pass Coverages:

Looking at Ohio State and how they fare vs. particular coverages. They have seen a lot of Cover 3 & Cover 1 all Season.

We can see that vs. Cover 1, McCord’s On-TGT% is 66%. And versus Cover 3, his On-TGT % is around 63%. So he does a tiny bit better vs. Cover 1.

Ohio State Running Game:

Run Type:

Ohio State is a bit different from most teams we’ve faced this year. They really like to run Outside Zone as opposed to Inside Zone as their “Primary” Run-Scheme. But it’s not surprising as to why. They have a Stuff Rate on Inside Zone Runs that is 1.67X Higher (15% vs. 9%). On QB Runs, they get a bit worse from a Stuff Rate standpoint (20% Stuff Rate).

Ohio State has struggled running the ball, coming in 93rd in the FBS in YPA. The good news is that Kyle McCord isn’t as mobile as Luke Altmeyer, Cam Ward, or Hudson Card.

With Traeveyon Henderson now seemingly healthy, they should get a big boost. But I’m confident that Wisconsin football has the ability to stop Tackle to Tackle Runs, but where they’ve struggled is on those Open Field situations from the QB vs. our LBs.

What Challenge will Ohio State Present the Wisconsin Football Offense?:

Ohio State Coverages:

Ohio State plays a good mix of Cover 0/1 & Cover 3. At times, they’ll play some Cover 2, but very minimally. They almost never Play Cover 4, so I wouldn’t expect to see any Cover 4. Honestly, what I’m expecting is a ton of Cover 0/1 challenging our Run-Game & forcing Braedyn Locke and our WRs to beat them.

Ohio State Pass Rush:

It’s a pretty standard look here from Ohio State and Jim Knowles’ defense. as they play in a 3-man Defensive Front. A ton of “DT & DE” Pass Rushes and the remainder of it from LB/S/CB Pass Rushes.

Ohio State hasn’t been able to get a ton of good pressure on the QB from its interior D-Lineman (DT). But they have gotten fairly decent pressure from their Edge Rushers. And they have been quite successful at getting pressure by sending LBs/S/CBs on blitzes! The good news is that they rarely send those players on blitzes, which generate the highest Pressure Rate.

Who are the players that Wisconsin football has to look out for?:

J.T Tuimoloau & Jack Sawyer, the pair of 5-Star Prospects, are their most used Edge Rushers and the two that generate the Highest Pressure Rates. We’ll have to account for them all Night & Jack Nelson and Riley Mahlman will have their hands full.

Ohio State vs. 11 Personnel:

Given the mix Ohio State Plays Cover 1 & Cover 3, it’s not shocking that they don’t like to load the box vs. 11 Personnel!

From a Coverage usage standpoint, when teams have gone 11-Personnel this Season, there is a bit of a changeup. This is actually where they utilize their use of Cover 2. And they go significantly less Cover 1, only about 40%, and less Cover 3 with about 30% USG.

That’s a noticeable deviation from their Overall style, where they run about 47% Cover 1. And only 37% Cover 3. So, a significant shift in how they operate when they get spread out! More multiple-high DB looks, again, as we always believe this will probably change vs. Wisconsin football. Given our personnel and proclivity to run the ball vs. lighter boxes!

How Will Wisconsin Football Attack Ohio State in 11 Personnel?:


There are no real changes here. The one thing that I am noticing is that on Straight Dropbacks vs. Cover 1 & 0, our Passing efficiency is very bad. Our Air Yards/ATT are down 12.68 on PA/RPO vs. 8.06 on Straight DBs. But there isn’t in increase in Pressure to cause such a dramatic shift, with 23.33% Pressure Rates on PA/RPO throws vs. 25.42% Pressure Rates on Straight DBs.

It looks like WRs are just not making the plays in those situations. In Cover 1, our Catchable Rate vs. Completion % is +30.77%. This means that if our WRs had caught every “catchable” throw, we would have completed about 16 more passes. So it looks like what many of us have seen all year: our WRs must create enough separation for easier and less contested catches. We’ll need that, especially against Ohio State and what I’ll presume to be a heavy dose of Cover 1 Man-Man matchups!

Final thoughts on Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State:

Implied Line:

VEGAS SPREAD is Wisconsin +14.5 & O/U 45. This implies a Score of:

Wisconsin Football: 14 vs. Ohio State: 31


I talked earlier this week about what seemed like a second gear we went to in the 2nd Half vs. Illinois. If we can keep Braedyn Locke clean, he’s proven he can process and fit throws into the appropriate windows. If he can, we’ll see Ohio State sink back into Cover 3 and Cover 2. That’s when the Braelon show gets initiated.

That’s the recipe for beating Ohio State for Wisconsin. Get them out of the Box at all costs. It starts with protecting Locke from Tuimoloau and Sawyer if we can limit those two from generating a ton of pressures. I truly believe Locke has the processing ability and arm talent to make every single throw we need to beat Ohio State into those Cover 3 & Cover 2 looks.

Once that happens, we can get back into our groove offensively, managing the clock with a healthy dose of Runs with Braelon.

If we fail to protect Locke, prepare for a Long Night. His ball security has continued to be an issue early vs. Illinois. and those boys from OSU will be coming with much more steam at him.

I think this group finds that level they showcased in the 4th Quarter vs. Illinois. Not just the O-Line who gave up ZERO (non-penalty) pressures in the 4th Quarter, but the defense who got three consecutive stops.

I’ll always have faith in this team, I think they proved enough late in that 2nd Half to warrant it.

My Prediction:

Wisconsin: 24 vs. Ohio State: 23

On Wisconsin!

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Gard Your Fickell is a leading authority on Wisconsin Badgers analytics, specializing in dissecting the intricate data behind football and basketball. With a deep passion for the game and an analytical mindset, Gard Your Fickell offers readers a unique perspective on the Badgers performance.