Oh yes, it is most definitely a trap.
This year, things are...different.
I have bad memories of 2008. Ohio State came into Madison for the first time in 5 years (WTF?) and won, because of Terrelle Pryor's athleticism, a horrific defensive breakdown that should have earned a timeout and a horrible interception that effectively sent Malcolm Jenkins to the Super Bowl.
After the jump: Can you really duplicate a 2008 result in 2010, and do your fans WANT you to?
In 2008, Pryor's freshman year, the Buckeyes managed a pair of easy wins to open up their schedule after getting matched up with an LSU team that had no business in the National Title. Todd Boeckman was their QB. The next week, with star RB Chris Wells sidelined, Boeckman served up another juicy disaster. A 35-3 loss to the USC Trojans in the Los Angeles Memorial Colisum effectively pulled the plug on his ill-fated tenure as quarterback of the Buckeyes. Uber-freshman Terrelle Pryor (aka Galloping Gazelle) rolled in and the Buckeyes hastily dismantled a 4-0 Minnesota team. They came into Madison, next, uncertain of what to expect.
Their opponent was reeling. Wisconsin was in a worse QB situation than Ohio State had been, starting Allan MotherBLEEPING Evr*dge (aka Rolling Disaster). Rolling Disaster served up an insane number of 2nd half turnovers with a 19-0 lead against Michigan, eventually sealing the most miserable game of my entire life with a failed two point conversion (which succeeded but for the worst penalty call. Ever. Shawn Crable smacking Troy Smith out of bounds in 06 doesn't even compare). To make matters worse, P.J. Hill's frequent bouts of mediocrity (aka Misery 39) prevented the Badgers from establishing any sort of running game, the defense played like garbage, and Rolling Disaster threw an interception for a touchdown (complete with uncalled blocks in the back).
Ohio State was rolling by comparison. Then a weird thing happened. The Badgers competed. They fought the Buckeyes tooth and nail, smacking Terrelle Pryor down in his backfield for four sacks and several runs for negative yardage. The Galloping Gazelle displayed his great speed at times, but his decision making was TERRIBLE. He threw an absolutely GORGEOUS INT to Allen Langford, who but for the presence of Brian Robiskie, would have gone all the way (perhaps this was the start of the arm-punt. I'm not sure). The game was very, very tight.
Then Wells ripped off a huge gain, the Buckeyes set up, and the Badgers missed about five tackles as Galloping Gazelle found the endzone. It was the biggest WTF moment of my life since Kellen Lewis tore Iowa apart in 2007.
About a minute later, Malcolm Jenkins, who I had happily forgotten about, stabbed me in the back, gutted me and about 80,000 Wisconsin fans, and caught a perfect pass from Rolling Disaster. The game was over shortly thereafter; I don't know whether I blacked out or not. I had to have blacked out the memories of that blasted Ohio State team cheering like they'd won a BLEEPING Super Bowl in Camp Randall, and I was even more pissed off after that game than the Michigan game the week before. 4 reasons: 1) My dad, an alumnus, made no effort whatsoever to get tickets for that game, 2) I'm quite certain that my undefeated record at Camp Randall would have had an effect on that game, 3) That game was actually winnable until Disaster's worst pick of his life and 4) Rolling Disaster was such a terrible QB that he couldn't have started at a Junior College, let alone Wisconsin.
Yeah, I'm annoyed and saddened I have such a good memory. Disaster and Misery 39 were an awful combination, 39 going down at the first opportunity for a rush of no gain and Disaster throwing terrible passes at the worst possible moment.
But there's another thing I'd like to bring up from that game: Terrelle Pryor's stat line.
Now, for a winning QB, this stat line is unimpressive: 13 completions on 19 attempts for 144 yards, one interception, one rushing touchdown, 4 sacks, and a WORSE THAN AWFUL 15 rushing attempts for 20 yards.
The 4 sacks is amazing considering how poorly Wisconsin's defensive line played that year. Maybe Galloping Gazelle's happy feet had something to do with it (or the rather porous OSU o-line that did nobody proud). Maybe, no, definitely Chris Wells's incredible stat line affects it. But those sort of stats are NOT going to get the job done.
Last year, in Columbus, these were his stats against a much-improved Wisconsin defense: 5 completions on 13 attempts for 87 yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception, no rushing touchdowns, and a measly 3.5 yards per carry on 10 carries (still WAY better than his horrific rushing stats against 08 Wisconsin). He was also sacked 2 times (no, that's wrong, he was sacked at least four times that I can recall and two of them were probably edited into "rushing" plays for -1 yard).
What do the stats tell me? Pryor's most ineffective days as a passer have come against Wisconsin. Game-winning TD or not in 08, his stats as a rusher in that game would have gotten any Big Ten running back benched at the end of the 3rd. Instead, people remember his TD, not the 14 or so carries that went absolutely nowhere. Pryor/Gazelle has thrown interceptions in both of his starts against Wisconsin, and I think that if he gets rattled as he did last year IN COLUMBUS that he's not going to have a good day at all, passing or rushing. That being said, I've no doubt the other Buckeyes will pick up the slack and give Wisconsin the fight of their lives.
What do the stats tell you? That's the question I have for Buckeye fans.
Feel free to flame me, guys. I feel like I just took a blowtorch to myself with those horrible memories of '08...