On Fridays, Ryan McGee will preview a key weekend matchup by digging deep into the rivalry and determining which team is set up for a brighter future going forward. From fan bases to coaching stability to recruiting success, he'll cover the rivalries from every angle.
For the first time since 1977, Wisconsin will enter this matchup as the only ranked team involved. The Badgers, despite last week's crushing loss to the Michigan State Spartans, are in the BCS mix again this year after last season's Rose Bowl trip, while the Buckeyes are struggling with an interim coach and a cloud of looming NCAA sanctions hanging over them.
So the question is, will the Badgers continue to hold an advantage over the Buckeyes in the wins column in the next few seasons, or will OSU be able to rebound and take back this Big Ten rivalry? Read on to find out.
1. Recent performance
It's not surprising that Wisconsin's sports information office doesn't list the results of the entire 77-game series with Ohio State in its edition of this week's pregame notes. Instead, they begin with 1981. Why? Because that's when this game became an actual rivalry.
Prior to 1981 the series was ugly, to say the least, with the Buckeyes leading 39-7-4. That's a beatdown any way you slice it. But over the last three decades it has evened out to the tune of 14-11-1 in Ohio State's favor. Since 1999, it has been even closer, split evenly at 5-5 (and 3-3 over the last six games). In fact, the Badgers are the only team to beat Ohio State four times in the last decade. No one else has beaten the Buckeyes more than twice in that time span.
Last year, then-top-ranked OSU gave up 31 points to Wisconsin, the most the Buckeyes surrendered since their loss to No. 1 USC in 2008. This year, the Badgers roll into Columbus ranked 12th in the AP poll.
Interestingly, Ohio State's SID office has turned the school's recent scandal into a positive when it comes to this series. Because the Buckeyes vacated the 2010 season, OSU doesn't officially recognize last year's upset loss, and they claim a current winning streak versus Wisconsin of three straight, from 2007-09.
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