Last season, the Wisconsin Badgers were able to frustrate and contain the Ohio State Buckeyes by not allowing Braxton Miller to break the game open. The Badgers’ defense keyed on Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, daring the Buckeyes to beat them over the top, which they were never able to do. Though they eventually came out on top in overtime, Ohio State isn’t interested in getting bottled up again and will look to break the game open on Saturday using their dynamic H-backs Dontre Wilson and Jordan Hall.
Neither Wilson or Hall were with the Buckeyes when they went into Camp Randall last season as Wilson, a true freshman, was still in high school and Hall was recovering from a foot injury. They have both made an impact on the early season, filling the vaunted H-back, or Pivot, position that has led so many Urban Meyer offenses through the years. Meyer loves to use this position at multiple spots in every formation to create matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators.
Hall has truly blossomed in the role this season. The senior leads the team in rushing, gaining 422 yards on 68 carries with eight touchdowns. He’s averaging a whopping 6.21 yards per carry and 105.5 yards per game so far this year. He’s added an average of two receptions per game as well for a total of 34 yards, forcing defenses to account for him when he comes out of the backfield in passing routes.
Wilson, while still learning the offense, has shown all the explosiveness that people expected out of him when he was a highly sought recruit. He’s averaging 9.31 yards per carry this season as he’s amassed 121 yards on 13 touches with one touchdown. He’s done damage in the passing game as well, catching 10 passes for 84 yards so far. As he continues to learn Meyer’s offense, expect to see him worked into the gameplan more often.
With the right kind of athletes in place, Meyer can spread the field more effectively and force the Badgers to defend the perimeter more this time around. By thinning out the defense stacked in the box, Ohio State is hoping that it will open their offense up for some bigger plays than they got last year when they needed a punt return and overtime to get the job done.
Will Wilson and Hall be difference-makers on Saturday in Columbus or will Wisconsin make life difficult for the Ohio State offense for a second straight year?
Join Kris Hughes and Tyler Brett for even more analysis of the Wisconsin/Ohio State matchup live on the Google + College Football Pregame Rant this Saturday at 4 central time live online! We’ll be picking two fans — one from each team — to tell us why their team will win and add to a lively discussion on what we see as each team’s keys to victory. Join us!