Last year, Wisconsin and Ohio State met on an impeccable October night at Camp Randall Stadium in a game that ultimately decided the Big Ten’s automatic BCS bowl berth. This fall, a Leaders division title could be on the line as Wisconsin visits Columbus on the night of Oct. 29.
Wisconsin likely will enter the season as the Leaders division favorite, still riding the momentum from its Rose Bowl appearance. The Badgers boast a strong returning nucleus and added arguably the nation's top transfer in quarterback Russell Wilson.
A second consecutive Big Ten title could vault Wisconsin into ranks of the national elite and make the Badgers the team to beat in the Leaders division, especially if an Ohio State backslide is on the horizon. Ohio State, meanwhile, has no plans to lose its spot.
We should know a lot more about these Buckeyes when Wisconsin comes to town. NCAA penalties could be handed down by this date. Ohio State likely will have sorted out its quarterback situation, and the key players suspended at the start of the season will be back. Regardless of the challenges facing new coach Luke Fickell and his players, Ohio State is always dangerous particularly at home. The Buckeyes have lost only one Big Ten game at home in the past three seasons.
Like most teams, Wisconsin has struggled in Columbus, boasting a 7-28-3 mark at Ohio Stadium. Wilson's experience could help if he's the starting quarterback, but he'll be facing an always stout Ohio State defense that should have a rhythm after replacing seven starters. Wisconsin physically dominated Ohio State at the line of scrimmage in last year's 31-18 win, a night Buckeyes players surely haven't forgotten.
Ball-carriers for both teams will be on display as Wisconsin sends its star tandem of James White and Montee Ball against Ohio State's stable of backs. The Buckeyes won't have to deal with All-American J.J. Watt this year, so they'll look to create room for Dan Herron and others.
This game could signify a power balance shift in the Big Ten -- or reaffirm that things haven't changed.
Either way, it's one not to be missed.