Wisconsin is off to an historic start defensively in 2019. Through six games, the Badgers already have four shutouts and give up an average of 173.7 yards per game. Wisconsin is also holding opponents to a record-low 15.66 conversion rate on third downs.

But ESPN’s Desmond Howard still has his doubts the Wisconsin defense is as good as the stats indicate. He said on College GameDay that the Badgers’ first true test will come when they face Ohio State.

“You look at the teams that they’ve already played. The offenses, most of them rank statistically at the bottom of their conferences, so I think Ohio State is a huge matchup,” Howard said. “That’s when we’ll see how good — or how GREAT — Wisconsin’s defense is. I mean, No. 1 in the country? That’s outstanding, but Michigan State had the No. 1 rushing defense until (Ohio State) ran all over them in Columbus.”

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit was more complimentary of the Wisconsin defense, saying the unit is vastly improved from last year.

“The is a Wisconsin defense last year that struggled. Look in the difference of their numbers last year to this year when it comes to defending the run, putting pressure on the QB,” he said. “Last year’s numbers were some of the worst they’ve ever had. Jimmy Leonhard now has a veteran team, an experienced team, and I think a chip on their shoulder.”

Wisconsin will face Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday at noon.