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Wisconsin football enjoying rare underdog role

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Braelon Allen vs. New Mexico State

Badgers tailback Braelon Allen said the team has nothing to lose and everything to gain when it plays Ohio State on Saturday. 

Badgers football beat reporter Colten Bartholomew and columnist Jim Polzin preview Wisconsin's toughest regular season matchup in 2022 when the Badgers head to Columbus to take on No. 3 Ohio State Saturday.

The University of Wisconsin football team is well aware of the chances the outside world gives it to win Saturday.

UW (2-1) is an 19-point underdog in its Big Ten Conference opener at No. 3 Ohio State (3-0).

“I enjoy it,” sophomore running back Braelon Allen said. “I think it kind of gives us an extra edge. Really, as the underdog, we don’t have much to lose. We go into this game with everything to gain, so I think that’s how we’re approaching it. I’m excited to play.”

This week's point spread is the largest against the Badgers since 1996 when UW traveled to Columbus as 26.5-point underdogs, per State Journal archives. That UW team held its own in a 17-14 loss to the then-No. 2 Buckeyes.

It's a rare spot for the Badgers to be the underdogs. In fact, this week and both games against the Buckeyes in 2019 are the only times since the Orange Bowl in 2018 that UW hasn't been favored by oddsmakers, according to ESPN's Chris Fallica, better known as "The Bear" on College GameDay. UW has been favored in 37 consecutive games not played against the Buckeyes.

“Personally, I've kind of been like that type of guy,” senior safety John Torchio said of being the underdog. “I love when people try to count you out or say, ‘Oh, they don't match up,’ something like that. It adds a little chip, definitely. Kind of go shock people.”

There have been 108 games since 2003 in which a team is an 19-point underdog, according to data compiled by TeamRankings.com. Those underdogs have covered the spread 53.3% of the time, but won straight up less than 4% of the time.

UW coach Paul Chryst says his team knows what matters is what happens Saturday night.

“I think that one of the things I've always appreciated being a coach here is guys always prepare each week and they know that you’ve got to go play the game,” Chryst said. “Doesn't matter what anything on the outside says.

“The game stands on its own each and every week. And I think you fall into a trap if you start trying to … all the outside, we call it outside noise … but none of that matters. It's what matters in the moment of playing the game. And we get that opportunity.”

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