The Ohio State Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers will face off in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night. Ohio State will enter as the No. 1 team in the nation with a perfect 12-0 record, while the Badgers are ranked 12th with a 10-2 record.
These teams faced each other earlier this season, and it led to Wisconsin’s second loss of the season as the Buckeyes walked over them in a 38-7 blowout. The Badgers went on to win their next four games, including a 38-17 win over No. 8 Minnesota last week.
The Ohio State Buckeyes enter this championship game as a 16.5-point favorite over the Badgers, as this will be a neutral-site game played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The undefeated Buckeyes will look to keep their streak alive and secure their spot in the College Football Playoff with a win in this conference championship.
Leading Ohio State is Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Justin Fields. The sophomore signal-caller has thrown for 2,654 yards, 37 touchdowns and just a single interception so far this season. He also has 111 rushing attempts this season for 470 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
J.K. Dobbins has been getting the job done for Ohio State on the ground this season. He has 250 carries this season for 1,657 yards and 19 touchdowns. The combination of these two in the backfield makes it impossible for defenses to key on one part of their offense. Wisconsin will not be able to load the box against Dobbins or sit back in a deep zone on Fields.
In their last matchup, the Ohio State defense held Wisconsin to 191 total yards of offense. They allowed just 2.4 yards per rush as Wisconsin gained 83 yards on 34 attempts. If Wisconsin wants to upset the Buckeyes in this one, it will have to muster a lot more than seven points this time.
Hoping For Better
The Badgers are led on offense primarily by their star running back Jonathan Taylor. The junior has 279 carries this season for 1,761 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Buckeyes held Taylor to just 52 yards and no touchdowns on 20 rushes in their first meeting. Wisconsin will have to find a way to get him going in this rematch if they want a different result.
Under center for Wisconsin is junior quarterback Jack Coan, who was held to just 108 yards in their last meeting. This season, Coan has thrown for 2,309 yards, 17 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He is also coming off a 280-yard, two-touchdown performance against Minnesota.
Wisconsin is averaging 35.8 points per game while allowing 14.6. They have also posted 442 yards per game while giving up 277. While their game against Ohio State was an outlier this season, they will have to make significant changes this week if they want to avoid a repeat of their first meeting.
The biggest problem for the Badgers in their previous game against Ohio State was their inability to stop Dobbins, who ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
What To Expect
While the Badgers have bounced back and defeated some top teams over the past few weeks, Ohio State is simply on a different level this season. This game may be closer than their last one, but I still expect the Buckeyes to win and cover the 16.5-point spread.