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Ohio State-Wisconsin rivalry intensifies

November 16, 2012
By BETTY POKAS - Buckeye Blitz (bpokas@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

WISCONSIN senior running back Montee Ball will attempt to break the NCAA touchdown record Saturday when the Ohio State Buckeyes will be aiming to win No. 11 and to claim the Leaders Division title outright.

During a press conference Monday, it was pointed out to Ball that his teammates on the defensive side of the ball don't like it when opponents do good things against them, whether it's setting a record, scoring or something else. He was asked if he anticipated Ohio State's defenders thinking there was no way that he's going to get that NCAA record against them.

"Of course, I was thinking about that actually earlier today," said Ball. "I know for a fact that (OSU head football coach) Urban (Meyer) is a very competitive guy. I know for a fact that's what he's telling them. And that's going to create a great game, I think for our fans.

"Yeah, if I was him, I wouldn't want for anybody to break a record on me."

Ball also thinks it would be ideal for him to break the record in his last home game at the Badgers' Camp Randall Stadium Saturday. Nine Badgers were be honored that day as part of Senior Day.

When the Badgers defeated the Indiana Hoosiers last week, Ball scored three TDs, bringing his career record to 77. That win also resulted in a spot in the Big Ten Football Championship game for Wisconsin.

With one TD, Ball could tie the record set by Travis Prentice of Miami University (Ohio), who had 78 TDs during his career. Two TDs by Ball could break that record. He earned his sixth Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor after last week's game.

Meyer said that Ball's "strengths are great vision, and he's really a fast player. ... he keeps getting stronger. He'll be a very good NFL back."

If Ball would set the record, UW would be the home of the NCAA's all-time leading rusher - 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne - and its all-time leading TD scorer.

The senior RB isn't the only Badger who could cause problems for the Buckeyes.

Twice during his press conference, Meyer mentioned No. 44, who is Chris Borland, a junior linebacker from Kettering, Ohio, who was listed as a candidate for three major honors during the preseason.

Meyer referred to Borland as "one of the best players in the Big Ten. ... He's an instinctive player, gigantic in the middle, 326 pounds 310 pounds, very sound. They're not a blitz team. They're a team that is extremely well coached."

Badger head football coach Bret Bielema said the Buckeyes are "a tremendous football team, obviously to be undefeated at this point in the season. Offensively led by quarterback Braxton Miller, but a lot of really good players up front and around him. Defensively, kind of different games have given different results, but they've been able to pull out all the games that they've been involved in, and special teams kind of the same deal. Some things we definitely feel we have to take advantage of."

Praising Miller as a tremendous athlete and a tremendous kid, Bielema said Miller is "probably one of the most mobile quarterbacks I've seen in my coaching career, in the combination of what he can also do throwing the football. We've maybe seen some guys that can maybe run better, but nobody that has the dual threat ability that Braxton has."

OSU is ranked No. 6 while Wisconsin, which is 7-3, 4-2, is unranked.

Although it's vacated because of NCAA sanctions, the 2010 game is memorable. At that time, the No. 1, undefeated Buckeyes were beaten by the Badgers with a 31-18 score.

Among the other downers for the Buckeyes were in 2003 and 1999. In 2003, OSU had a national best, 19-game winning streak, but it came to an end at Camp Randall when the Badgers won 17-10. In 1999, Wisconsin was unranked and came back from a 17-0 deficit to record its largest margin of victory in the series -25 points - with a 42-17 win.

The Buckeyes, however, snapped Wisconsin's 16-game home unbeaten streak with a 20-17 win in 2008. The previous year, the Badgers led in the third quarter at the 'Shoe, but OSU scored 28 consecutive points to win 3 8-17.

OSU has the lead, 54-18-5 lead in the series that dates back to 1913. In the last 27 match-ups, however, the Buckeyes have only a four-win edge over the Badgers, 15-11-1.

It is easy to see why Meyer commented, "It's a rivalry game because you have to understand who you're playing and what they've done the last few years."

The Buckeyes are one of only four unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and the others are Oregon, Kansas and Notre Dame. In addition, OSU at 10-0 is having its longest winning steak in five years.

Saturday's game, which will be televised by ABC, will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.

 
 
 

 

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