How to watch Wisconsin vs. Ohio State 2013: Preview, TV schedule, odds and more

Mike McGinnis

This is a game that could end up deciding one of the Big Ten's division races.

It's the first significant Big Ten game of the season, a contest between the two teams most likely to end up winning the Leaders Division. Ohio State has its eye on a national title bid and, with a top-five ranking in both polls is very much in the mix there, while Wisconsin is aiming for its third consecutive conference title game appearance.

The Buckeyes are expected to have starting quarterback Braxton Miller back. Miller, a preseason Heisman candidate, missed the last two games because of a knee injury, though Ohio State didn't have any trouble moving the football without him.

The Badgers are doing their usual thing on the ground, racking up rushing yards in bunches. They piled up 388 yards against Purdue last week, and they've rushed for at least 237 yards in every game this season. Keeping Joel Stave out of a lot of obvious passing situations is going to be a big key for Wisconsin in Columbus.

The numbers

Rankings and records: Ohio State is 4-0 (0-0), ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll. Wisconsin is 3-1 (1-0), No. 23 in the AP Poll and No. 24 in the Coaches' Poll. The Buckeyes have won two in a row in this series and hold a 55-18-5 edge all-time.

Vegas: The Buckeyes are 6.5-point favorites, while the over/under opened at 54.5 points.

Weather: A high of 80 is expected in Columbus, with little chance for rain.

Three names to know

Braxton Miller -- Miller ran for more than 1,200 yards in 2012 while throwing for over 2,000, and he was off to a good start this season before the aforementioned knee injury knocked him out of action. If he's back and 100 percent, the Badgers have a tough assignment ahead of them.

Melvin Gordon -- Despite being 10th in the Big Ten in carries, Gordon leads the league in rushing yardage by a wide margin with 624 yards. That's an average of nearly 12 yards per attempt. That production makes backfield mate James White's 7.3 average per carry look paltry by comparison. It's led Wisconsin fans to wonder if the two make up the program's best-ever immune system, while the Buckeye fans are very worried about Gordon.

Jared Abbrederis -- When the Badgers do decide to throw the ball, Abbrederis is often involved. He's second in the Big Ten with 365 receiving yards, third in receptions and has made three touchdown catches.

Two things at stake

It's September so it's tough to nix their chances completely, but if the Buckeyes lose, they are probably out of the national title race for good. The drop in the polls resulting from a defeat would leave the Buckeyes with a lot of teams to leap between now and the end of the year. It would also leave them with ground to make up in the conference picture, since it would push the Badgers to 2-0 in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin is fortunate in that it won't have to play a cross-division game against Michigan, while the Buckeyes do. Both teams get Northwestern out of the Legends, but the Buckeyes get the Wildcats on the road and the Badgers get them at home. That's a potentially key scheduling edge for the Badgers, especially if they manage to knock off the Buckeyes. Now they just have to take advantage.

How to witness

TV: ABC (8 p.m. ET)

Radio: Ohio State's affiliates are listed here. Wisconsin's are here.

Further reading

For more on the Buckeyes, visit Land-Grant Holy Land, and for comprehensive coverage of Wisconsin, visit Bucky's 5th Quarter.

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