Ohio State football: 4 things to watch against Wisconsin

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor /
2 of 5
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor /

The Jonathan Taylor show

Make no mistake about it, the freshman from New Jersey is the real deal. Jonathan Taylor is the nation’s third leading rusher and is tops in the Big Ten. While Baker Mayfield might be the clubhouse favorite to win the Heisman, a big-time performance in the Big Ten title game, Taylor could run his way into the conversation. The way the Wisconsin Badgers run the ball, Taylor will be given every opportunity to do so.

Wisconsin’s 553 rushing attempts are tops in the league, with Taylor leading the way with 258 carries. There isn’t another Badger that has topped 100 carries in 2017, so this isn’t like the Michigan “back by committee” approach. Taylor has also been running wild in his last few games, running for 138.8 yards in the last five games, including an abbreviated appearance against Illinois where Taylor only carried the ball 12 times for 73 yards. There are three 200 yard games to his credit and three multi-touchdown games. Taylor does all of this while averaging 7.0 yards per carry.

For Ohio State, they’ll need to shore up the edge defense, an area where the Wolverines took advantage of the Silver Bullets in The Game. Jerome Baker especially needs to be a force limiting Taylor’s ability to turn the corner to the second level or make an effective cutback. Without leading receiver Quintez Cephus, Taylor will be utilized early and often. Ohio State better get ready to stop the run. While the Buckeyes rank fourth in the Big Ten against the run, the Badgers run heavy, play action offense looks an awful lot like the one that Iowa used to blow out the Buckeyes.