Montee Ball knows that the University of Wisconsin football team will carry a big target on its back as two-time defending Big Ten Conference champs.
But Ball, who surprised many by returning for his senior season after matching Barry Sanders' NCAA record with 39 touchdowns and finishing fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, says Ohio State is "the team to beat for sure" in the Leaders Division.
"I believe that right now we are the targeted team in the Big Ten, because of what we've done these past two years," Ball said Wednesday on a Big Ten teleconference.
"Everybody's probably shooting and gunning for us, which is a good thing to us. That's why we make sure we practice just as hard as we did a couple years ago when we first went to the Rose Bowl, and last year as well."
The Badgers beat the then-No. 1 and unbeaten Buckeyes in Camp Randall Stadium in 2010 but Ohio State returned the favor last season in Columbus, topping UW 33-29 on a last-minute touchdown pass.
Wisconsin hosts the Buckeyes and new coach Urban Meyer on Nov. 17 at Camp Randall Stadium.
"Obviously every game's very important because we have to start the season off right — you want to start the season off, obviously, with some Ws — but I'll be honest: Obviously, I want to get back and play Michigan State and obviously Ohio State," Ball said.