It’s no secret, the Wisconsin Badgers love to run the ball. With a running back like Jonathan Taylor, who blames them.

On the year, Taylor has been the most electrifying freshman in the country. The Salem, New Jersey native ran for 1,806 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, the Ohio State Buckeyes possess a dominant defensive line that could limit Taylor’s impact in the B1G Championship on Saturday. But it won’t be the Buckeyes’ defensive line that will potentially win Ohio State the game on defense, it will be its secondary.

The scarlet and gray are 10-2 this season, with the two losses coming against the Oklahoma Sooners and the Iowa Hawkeyes. And in those games, the Sooners and the Hawkeyes absolutely torched the Buckeye secondary.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 27-of-35 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns early in September. Then in October, Iowa signal caller Nate Stanley looked like Tom Brady as he passed 226 yards and five touchdowns, while completing 20-of-31 attempts.

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

Ohio sports betting apps are officially launching on January 1, 2023.

Pre-registration is now available at FanDuel Ohio for an extra $100 bonus. Go pre-register now.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Now, Wisconsin is without its best playmaker in the receiving game, as Quintez Cephus suffered a season-ending leg injury at Indiana in early November. But, the receiving trio of Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor have been magnificent since Cephus suffered his injury.

In the three games without Cephus, that trio has combined for 400 yards and three touchdowns on 25 touches. They combined for 11 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Minnesota. All three are capable to burn Ohio State’s secondary.

Not only have Davis, Taylor, and Pryor been surprising playmakers for the Badgers, but the Buckyes have to worry about tight end Troy Fumagalli as well.

Fumagalli, who was the B1G Tight End of the Year, has 38 catches for 471 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Considering the troubles Ohio State has had covering tight ends this year, the Buckeye secondary will need to know where Fumagalli is at all times. Those struggles were big factors in the Ohio State’s losses to Oklahoma and Iowa, and could have cost the Buckeyes last week if Michigan had a healthy quarterback who could hit open targets over the middle of the field with any consistency. However, a pass catcher is only as good as its quarterback.

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is like a rorschach test. Some fans will say he’s a good signal caller and others will say he should be benched.

On the year, Hornibrook tossed 13 interceptions. Most of which came in B1G play. Against the best secondary he saw all year (the Iowa Hawkeyes), Hornibrook threw three interceptions. But, Hornibrook has proven he can play mistake free play football against teams like Utah State, BYU and Minnesota. In the game versus Minnesota, Hornibrook was tremendous. He completed 15 of 19 passes for 151 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, which marked his first B1G game without an interception this season. But can he do it again an Ohio State defense that will be providing minimal time to throw?

However, Hornibrook is still a much better quarterback than Michigan’s John O’Korn. So, he is capable of making the Buckeye secondary pay if they are unable to fix the issues they have had this year.

Oct 28, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (3) scores a touchdown against Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Denzel Ward (12) in the second half at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Although Ohio State’s secondary has been shaky this season, it ended the year well. It allowed 114 yards per game through the air in the last three contests (Michigan State, Illinois, and Michigan) this season. But the impressive thing about that stretch was the guys like Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette Jr. shut down Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke.

After throwing for back-to-back 400 yards against Northwestern and Penn State, Lewerke completed a mere 50 percent of his passes for 136 yards, a score and two interceptions. Basically, Ohio State made Lewerke look like a freshman signal caller.

There are many factors in how the Buckeyes can defeat the Badgers. On offense, it’s if Ohio State can play efficiently without starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, if he isn’t able to go. But avoiding pitfalls in pass coverage, which cost the Buckeyes earlier this year, will more than likely make or break Ohio State’s title hopes. And the scarlet and gray’s secondary knows that.

“This is a big match-up,” Ward said to 247 Sports. “We’re trying to get a ring, so it’s big.”