Cardale Jones; Can He Cause Wisconsin Problems?


Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and now, Cardale Jones.

There is at some point, a time when even Badgers fans have to look across at their next opponent and feel a bit of sympathy for the trials at quarterback this season.

Wait. Maybe not.

Regardless of who lines up for the Ohio State Buckeyes at quarterback this weekend, Wisconsin likely won’t bow down for mercy.

Miller was a pre-season favorite to be in the running for the 2014 Heisman Trophy Award.

After injuring his shoulder in the pre-season, and being ruled out for the entire campaign, the attention quickly turned to Barrett who‘d be flashed to the front of the line.

Immediately, the Buckeyes fell behind Michigan State as the team that was to emerge from the East division and fight for a berth in the Big Ten Championship game.

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Little did anyone know that Barrett would take Ohio State through an early season loss to Virginia Tech, to the No. 6 spot in the nation and discussion regarding the final four fighting to win the 2014 College Football Playoff.

With Barrett gone, Jones steps in, and immediately sets the Buckeyes back much like what happened earlier this season when Miller went down.

All the injury talk set aside, it seems that without even a blink, or mention of their accomplishments this season, Wisconsin has been moved in front of Ohio State as the favorite to take home the championship trophy this weekend.

Gary Andersen and the Badgers aren’t buying it.

The No. 6 Buckeyes (11-1, 8-0 Big Ten) will play the No. 14 Badgers (10-2, 7-1) in the Big Ten championship game this Saturday at 8 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Under center for the Eastern Division winners will be the same guy who started the season at No. 3 on the teams depth chart.

A physical specimen, he’s listed at 6-5, 250 pounds and is an in-state product, hailing from Cleveland.

Jones took 39 snaps last year as a redshirt freshman, and has played seven games this season as a backup, throwing 17 passes and carrying the ball 26 times.

Just a few statistics; on the prep level, he racked up a 24-3 record as a starting quarterback while passing for 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior in 2011 for coach Ted Ginn.

Coming off of a year where he threw for 2,168 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior in 2009, he wasn’t highly recruited, but found a home at Ohio State.

On the opposite sideline sits the Big Ten’s best defense, statistically, going against a quarterback making his first-ever collegiate start.

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 in the country, behind only Clemson (259.6 yards per game) in total defense – holding teams to 260 yards per game, total.

They’ve allowed on average just 16.8 yards per game which is fourth best in the country while also allowing on average the second fewest amount of yards through the air (157 yards per game).

Michael Caputo has put himself in the conversations that includes defensive stars Jim Leonhard and Jo Stellmacher.

He leads the team in tackles (92), has forced two fumbles while recovering four more.

The Trotter brothers, Michael and Marcus, have realized their success – both seeing the field a significant amount alongside stalwarts Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert.

While all the talk will continue to be about Ohio State and who they don’t have playing this week, lets not forget that there is a pretty stout defensive team staring across the line who might have something to say – regardless of who’s calling the plays for the Buckeyes.

Next: J.T. Barrett Injured, Out for Season; How it Affects Wisconsin's Big Ten Championship Hopes