75F Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema contends his team won't dwell on last week's dramatic loss, especially with an important slate of conference games upcoming.
After going from national title contenders to tied for second place in the Big Ten's Leaders Division in the blink of an eye, the 12th-ranked Badgers look to bounce back during their visit to Ohio State on Saturday night.
Wisconsin fell victim to a 44-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired in last Saturday's 37-31 loss at then-No. 15 Michigan State, dropping its first game after not allowing more than 17 points in its previous six.
The Badgers (6-1, 2-1) fell seven spots in the AP poll and behind Penn State in their division, but Bielema saw plenty of good in the loss, including a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback to tie the game.
"Expect this group to bounce back, as they did late in the fourth quarter, and put everything in as preparation," Bielema said. "(It is) a great opportunity this week to go on the road, a night game, national stage against a traditional opponent that we all look forward to at Ohio State."
Four of the Badgers' last five games are against opponents within their division, and quarterback Russell Wilson is aware of the importance of overcoming a potentially demoralizing defeat.
Wilson accounted for three touchdowns last week but also threw two costly interceptions. His 16 touchdown passes are tied for the most in the conference, and his 204.9 passer rating ranks second in the FBS.
"In terms of regrouping, I think the main thing is staying positive," Wilson said. "There are a lot of great opportunities for us and we have a great opportunity in playing Ohio State at Ohio State. It doesn't get much better than that. It's one of the great places to play in the country, and it's going to be a great environment."
The Buckeyes (4-3, 1-2) have had two weeks to prepare for this showdown after beating then-No. 16 Illinois 17-7 on Oct. 15. A win over Wisconsin puts Ohio State back into the thick of the division race despite its earlier struggles.
Coach Luke Fickell said the Buckeyes seem confident in preparation of facing a Badgers team coming off a loss.
"We have a lot of things to play for. We understand that," Fickell said. "Maybe it's another little something that our guys saw. Maybe they believe in themselves a little bit more. Maybe they see vulnerability (in Wisconsin). I don't know what it is."
Still, Fickell doesn't believe the Badgers are going to let the sting of last week's defeat carry over.
"A loss is a loss and it's hard no matter how they happen. The sign of a program is getting back up and continuing to battle," Fickell said. "I think that's what you'll see. Just like any good program, good team, sometimes that's a wake-up call and burns that fire in your belly a little bit more."
Ohio State had a similar feeling last season when Wisconsin beat the top-ranked Buckeyes 31-18 on Oct. 16, 2010, to spoil an undefeated season and end a three-game winning streak against the Badgers.
Dan Herron ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns in that contest and seems to be back to that same form after sitting out the Buckeyes' first six games this season.
Herron rushed for 114 yards and a score against Illinois in his first game since serving a six-game suspension for receiving improper benefits.
His return was part of the reason the Buckeyes attempted only four passes in that game, with freshman Braxton Miller hitting Jake Stoneburner with a 17-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter for his only completion.
Ohio State may need more balanced play-calling to confuse a Wisconsin defense which ranks ninth nationally allowing 286.7 total yards per game.
Saturday marks the first time in 12 meetings Wisconsin has faced an unranked Ohio State team. The last time came Nov. 5, 1994, with the Buckeyes winning 24-3 in Columbus.
The Badgers have lost their past two trips to Ohio State, last winning there 24-13 on Oct. 9, 2004.