MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is a member of the Braxton Miller fan club.
The Ohio State quarterback popped up on Bielema’s radar during a recruiting visit at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, several years ago. Miller wasn’t the recruiting target, but the Badgers coach walked away with a favorable impression.
“I’ve been around him and seen what kind of person he is,” Bielema said Monday. “He just exudes everything you would like in the world of college football. I think he’s just a tremendous talent, too. I’m not saying he’s (former Badgers quarterback) Russell Wilson, but he carries a lot of those same things. I just wish we didn’t have to play him every year because he truly is special.”
The Badgers will have their hands full in containing Miller when Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten Conference) hosts sixth-ranked Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) on Saturday.
Miller is having an exceptional season for the Buckeyes, who sit atop the Big Ten Legends division standings but are ineligible for post-season competition due to NCAA sanctions.
The sophomore has accounted for 66 percent (2,919 of 4,453 yards) of the Buckeyes’ offense and more than half their touchdowns. Miller, who has rushed for 13 touchdowns, is the team’s leading rusher with 1,166 yards. He’s passed for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Miller’s accuracy has blossomed implementing first-season coach Urban Meyer’s offensive schemes, according to Bielema.
“He’s probably one of the most mobile quarterbacks I’ve seen in my coaching career, with the combination of what he can also do throwing the football,” Bielema said. “We’ve maybe seen some guys that can maybe run better, but nobody that has the dual-threat ability that Braxton has.”
The Badgers wrapped up their second straight Big Ten championship game berth with a dominating 62-14 victory at Indiana. Despite that, Bielema said he has no plans to rest key players for post-season games.
The following pieces need to fall into place for Wisconsin to clinch a share of the Big Ten title: Wisconsin victories against Ohio State and at Penn State in the regular-season finale and a Michigan State win against the Buckeyes.
“We’re in a race to finish at the top of our division, and this opportunity this week is a chance to play the team that’s at that number one spot,” Bielema said. “So, I think I might have a mutiny on my hands if I tried to pull anybody out of this game.”
A Wisconsin win against the Buckeyes likely would help erase the sting of a loss at Ohio State last season. The Badgers’ secondary miscommunicated on a formation change and Miller threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Smith with 20 seconds left to secure a 33-29 victory.
Redshirt junior center Travis Frederick said clinching a statement victory against a ranked league rival is one of the Badgers’ goals as the regular season draws to a close.
“I absolutely think so,” Frederick said. “I don’t think we’ve had (a statement win) yet. We played some really close games, and the games we lost were really close. So for us, it’s a matter of us doing the things we need to do, and that will make the statement.”