MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema knows all about the balance of power in the Big Ten. Since he joined the Badgers' staff in 2004, Bielema has seen enough of Ohio State to formulate a professional opinion.
The Buckeyes have won five straight Big Ten championships and have beaten Wisconsin three straight times. The Badgers have won just five of the last 14 meetings with Ohio State.
"It probably has a lot to do with the guys across from us," Bielema said about facing the Buckeyes.
"If there's one common denominator, I think it is that we've done things well, but we haven't done things well enough. When you're playing against high competition ... understand it's a different game, because maybe you can't take as many risks."
Bielema, who played at Iowa and then spent eight years there as a coach, said Ohio State operates from a position of strength, and for the Buckeyes, success begets success.
"They've been a part of it for so long, I think, that in recruiting, it's just always interesting because they are getting the guys that they want," he said. "They pretty much, at least in the Midwest, they get their people."
Bielema said as he and the other Wisconsin coaches go over Ohio State's depth chart, they see players that were high on the Badgers' recruiting list, sitting in backup positions at Ohio State. He expects tonight's Big Ten showdown to tell him more about his own team than it will about the Buckeyes.
"Now to go against an opponent at the level Ohio State's been able to uphold for so long is going to be a nice measuring stick," Bielema said. "I think our guys will have that in the back of their minds."
Bielema said that while reviewing film of Ohio State's most recent win over Indiana, he saw Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor in a whole different light. Pryor, who beat Wisconsin with a touchdown run with about a minute left here two years ago, had no intention of running against the Hoosiers as he rested a sore left thigh.
"They knew for his game to go to the next level, he was going to have to expand that element, and he's done that," Bielema said. "Against Indiana, he was just sitting back there putting the ball wherever he seemed to want to go with it."
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Pryor's 24-of-30 passing day was an encouraging sign that the Heisman Trophy candidate keeps progressing.
"He did a heck of a job and seemed to have a good command of what they were doing," Tressel said. "He took a step forward in our opinion."
Bielema said Pryor is no longer the ultra-gifted but raw athlete Bielema saw as such a dominant multi-sport athlete in high school.
"I remember watching him on film. I remember going to his high school and watching basketball practice. I just remember how exceptionally talented he is," Bielema said.
"And now under coach Tressel's tutelage, knowing the things that are important, the ball security, maintaining possession of the football, not making unnecessary risks, and don't put your defense in a bad position. Now he's grown into the ideal player for them."
KEELS HOSPITALIZED: Paul Keels, Ohio State's play-by-play announcer on radio, has been hospitalized due to abdominal surgery. Marty Bannister, usually the sideline reporter, will assume Keels' job on play-by-play. Keels is expected to be back soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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