Since the Badgers were shut down offensively against Ohio State in October, the offense has been more diverse and open to taking shots down the field. Receiver Quintez Cephus (above) had 18 catches, 310 yards and three touchdown receptions in November as he and quarterback Jack Coan displayed a great connection. Cephus torched Minnesota’s secondary for two big plays, including a 47-yard touchdown, on the same third-quarter drive last week.
Cephus’ big day against the Gophers was aided by their insistence to slow down junior tailback Jonathan Taylor, but he still had three total touchdowns to improve to a nation-best 25 this season.
Along with the use of jet sweeps and jet motion to threaten to edges of run defenses, UW debuted end-around runs last week, one of which turned into a 26-yard touchdown for receiver Kendric Pryor. The added layers to the offense helped the Badgers average 36 points and 503.5 yards of offense over the past four games.
UW must do a better job against Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy-caliber defensive end Chase Young in this rematch. Young controlled the line, tallied four sacks, and forced Coan to fumble twice in October. Young leads the FBS with 16½ sacks.
Even if the Badgers contain Young, the Buckeyes’ defense possesses tremendous speed at the second and third levels. Linebacker Malik Harrison leads Ohio State with 63 total tackles and he has 16 for loss. Jeff Okudah is one of the top defensive backs in the Big Ten, and he has three interceptions and six pass breakups this season.