Ohio State football: 5 takeaways from Ryan Day about Saturday’s game vs. Wisconsin

Ryan Day and Ohio State are back to work this week after throttling Northwestern 52-3 on Friday night.

With No. 13 Wisconsin coming to Ohio Stadium this Saturday, coach Ryan Day met with the media for the first time Tuesday to discuss the Badgers and more.

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Here are five takeaways from his weekly Tuesday press conference:

1. Wisconsin’s 24-23 loss to unranked Illinois does not change how the Buckeyes will prepare for the Badgers.

File that one under, “No Surprise,” but the coach confirmed he sees the Badgers as the best team No. 3 Ohio State will have faced so far this season.

“We know how good they are on both sides of the ball, all three phases,” Day said. “They got great players on both sides of the ball, NFL players. Last week is what it is. This is college football. You have to bring it every week. It’s the same thing with us. We have to bring it this week. It’s going to be our best game of the year, our biggest challenge on both sides of the ball. We have to prepare better than we have all year.”

2. Day watched the Fighting Illini’s upset on television a day after his team cruised to its seventh win of the season.

“It’s one of those things where you watch the games — I try not to root for anybody. You just kind of watch it like a fan,” Day said.

“I thought Illinois played well. I thought Wisconsin played really well at times. They turned the ball over a little bit there towards the end. Illinois and coach (Lovie) Smith did a great job of getting those guys ready to go at home. That’s college football. We’ve been on the other side of that. We know all about that.”

Like most coaches, he did not view seeing the television broadcast — as opposed to coaches’ film that offers an all-22 view of the field — as a proper preparation tool for himself.

“Just watching the game to kind of get my eyeballs on it.”

3. He has looked at how the Badgers matched up against common opponents.

“We know this is a good team,” Day said. “I mean, they played against teams we played against. You can compare the competition. They’ve done a really good job.”

The Badgers had much more trouble with Northwestern, needing a pair of defensive touchdowns to claim a 24-15 win on Sept. 28, than Ohio State did.

However, Wisconsin crushed Michigan State 38-0 on Oct. 12, one week after the Buckeyes scored a more workmanlike 34-10 victory against the Spartans.

“Obviously it starts with the running back (Jonathan Taylor) and the run game on offense, then it goes to what coach (Jim) Leonhard is doing on defense,” Day said. “They do a great job.

“We’ve gone up against them before. We know schematically they’re tough, they’re smart. All of the above.”

4. A pair of banged up regulars are making progress.

Thayer Munford did not start the Northwestern game, but the junior left tackle ultimately turned in about a quarter of work Friday night, helping spur another second-quarter explosion in which the Buckeyes put the game out of reach.

He sat out the second half while redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere, who started the game, and true freshman Dawand Jones went the rest of the way at left tackle.

“It was gritty,” Day said of Munford’s performance. “It was tough. Thayer played for his teammates, which goes to show you what kind of kid he is. Great kid, unselfish. I think the day off was great for him. He’s feeling good. Should be ready to go this week.”

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On the other side of the ball, Baron Browning missed the Northwestern game with an undisclosed injury.

Day said the co-starter at middle linebacker, who is a part of some sub-packages while sharing time with Tuf Borland in the base defense, “looks good so far” in practice this week.

5. Matching up against what is statistically the best defense in the nation does provide a great measuring stick for his highly successful offense.

“This is the No. 1 defense in the country —we consider ourselves to be one of the top offenses in the country,” Day said, “so we can find out where we’re at.”

Something’s got to give as Ohio State ranks No. 1 in the nation in third-down conversions and Wisconsin leads the country in third-down defense.

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The Buckeyes also rank in the national top five in scoring, rushing, total offense and first downs while Wisconsin is No. 1 in points allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, total yards allowed and in the red zone.

“You’ve got to play good situational football,” Day said. “They do a really good job on third down, in the red zone. They’re really physical. They got talent on the edges.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a challenge for our guys. We have to answer the bell.”


Wisconsin at Ohio State, Noon, Fox, 1410

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