You may remember that when we played Kansas State earlier this season, the Kansas State blog posted Q&As with some of our rivals to gauge their thoughts and feelings on the Tigers. I decided to replicate that for the bowl game and reached out to a number of Wisconsin's B1G rivals. I'll be posting the responses that I received over the next three days. Here is the second of those, Chad Peltier from LandGrantHolyLand.com, the SB Nation Ohio State site, joins us.
1) Tell us your best and worst memory of playing Wisconsin.
Before the Big Ten Championship game (you may have seen how that went) I would have said that my best memory was probably the last second 2011 Braxton Miller touchdown to beat the Badgers in an otherwise forgettable season. However, now it's definitely the absolute shellacking in the Big Ten Championship. According to Chase Stuart's SRS, it was the single-best game of the year.
My worst memory was the 2010 game, where the 18th-ranked Badgers upset the top-ranked Buckeyes. That was such a deflating loss in year where the Buckeyes ended up finishing fourth in the F/+ rankings.
2) How about just your opinion of Wisconsin in general?
Even though the Buckeyes have won seven of the last eight against Wisconsin, there was a time where I hated the Badgers nearly as much as Michigan (there weren't many other teams to dislike in the Big Ten).
With Gary Anderson at the helm, it was a lot harder to hate the Badgers than when Bret Bielema was head coach. You have to respect their ability to always produce insane offensive lines and running backs (they're 18th in Adjusted Line Yards this season) and play decent defense despite having to recruit kids to the frozen tundra up in Wisconsin. At least Madison sounds like a cool town.
3) What are your impressions about us down in the Loveliest Village? Don't worry about being tactful if you think we're horrendous, we've heard it all before. We live in Alabama, after all.
I respect Auburn fans for being among the most passionate in college football. I've never been to Auburn itself, so I can't speak to the city, other than hearing that it's like Clemson without a lake (and I like Clemson).
But why couldn't y'all have beaten Florida State in the championship game last year? I mean, I know it was a miracle year anyway, but come on, finish the drill.
4) What do y'all think of Barry Alvarez coaching another "last game?" Will that help or hurt Wisconsin?
I'm not sure if the Alvarez factor will affect the game's outcome, to be honest. I think the demoralizing loss to Ohio State and then having your head coach jump ship for Oregon State of all places is worse. It's hard to spin into a positive for Wisconsin, I guess, since Anderson was a solid coach and it's not like Wisconsin will play extra hard for Alvarez's job or anything. I'm expecting you'll see a lot of the same offense and defense you've seen all season from Wisconsin -- unless Melvin Gordon wants to preserve himself for the NFL Draft coming up.
5) What do you think of this Wisconsin team? Depending on how much you know about us down here at Auburn, what weaknesses of ours do you think they're particularly suited to exploit? What strengths of ours set up well against them?
They're a solid team despite the Big Ten Championship. Their run game is among the best in the country, their offensive line gets a good push, and they're actually one of the most explosive offenses in the country too (12th in IsoPPP). That's pretty much all Gordon and second-string running back Corey Clement hitting a crease and then taking off. Just looking at the numbers, that seems kinda tough for Auburn's defense, since they're 97th in Defensive IsoPPP (but 18th in Rushing S&P+ defense). However, shut down Gordon and the offensive line and you shut down the entire offense. Joel Stave isn't going to win the game for them, that's for sure. And even with Auburn's 47th-ranked Passing S&P+ defense, I don't think you need to worry at all about their passing offense.
The Badgers defense has been solid this season as well, but they're fairly prone to allowing big plays (62nd in IsoPPP), which I'm sure Nick Marshall and Sammie Coates will be happy to provide. I'm sure you'll see a steady diet of Cameron Artis-Payne for the efficiency, but Marshall, Coates, and Duke Williams will light up the Badgers' scoreboard.
6) What are your thoughts on how this game plays out?
The Badgers have the ability to score for sure, but it depends a lot on Melvin Gordon and the offensive line. Just looking at the Auburn defensive line stats, it looks like they're solid against the run, but don't pressure the quarterback all that much. I think that's about as good of a matchup as you could hope for. I guess the main worry is if the Badgers can replicate the Bulldawgs' success, where Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley just ran wild, but I'm thinking that Auburn has plenty of positive tape to study from the Big Ten Championship game on how to stop Gordon. One thing I don't really worry about for Auburn is the offense. Despite a solid group of overachievers (relative to their defensive recruiting), Auburn has the explosive ability to score very quckly.
And that's it. You can check out the previous edition with the Iowa blog, Black Heart Gold Pants, here.