Homecollege football

Big Ten Championship Game preview: #8 Wisconsin vs. #1 Ohio State

Profile Picture: Ashley Anderson

December 5th, 2019

Over 56
Ohio State
Under 56
The Wisconsin Badgers will head in hungry for vengeance against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Saturday's battle for the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Back in October these schools faced off in Columbus, and the game was dominated by the Buckeyes, 38-7. Wisconsin had unexpectedly suffered its first loss of the season the week before against Illinois and came in deflated against an undefeated Buckeyes team.

Buckeyes look to secure top seeding in the CFP

Saturday's clash should present a different story. The Badgers have the chance to hand Ohio State its first defeat of the year and bump the Buckeyes down a notch in the College Football Playoff picture.

Ohio State currently possesses the No. 1 spot in the CFP rankings, but a loss on Saturday would give LSU the top seed—assuming the Tigers defeat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game—or let Clemson sneak into the top spot if both fall over the weekend.
In Ohio State’s last outing, the Buckeyes breezed past bitter rival Michigan in a 56-27 rout. Heisman hopeful Justin Fields connected on 14 of his 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns and completed his sixth straight game without an interception. His only interception of the season came in early October against Michigan State.

Running back J.K. Dobbins also put on a stellar show against the Wolverines. He ran for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries. Freshman receiver Garret Wilson led the team in receiving yards, with 118 yards and one score on just three catches. He and sophomore wideout Chris Olave both averaged more than 30 yards per reception in the game.

Wisconsin experienced a November turnaround

As for the 10-2 Badgers, the team slapped No. 8 Minnesota with its second loss of the season in a 38-17 drubbing last week. Star running back Jonathan Taylor tallied 76 yards on 18 carries and put up three total touchdowns. The junior has rushed for 1,761 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, plus he has caught 22 passes for 201 yards and another five scores.

Against Ohio State in October, Taylor only gained 52 yards on 20 carries. He’ll need to do a lot more in the Big Ten Championship Game to give Wisconsin any hope of winning.

The Badgers may be without offensive lineman David Moorman, receiver A.J. Taylor and cornerback Rachad Wildgoose, who are all listed as questionable on Wisconsin’s preliminary status report.

The larger injury concern, though, is on Ohio State’s roster. In the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Michigan, Fields aggravated a sprained MCL in his left knee and had to be evaluated in a tent on the sideline. He returned a few plays later to toss a 30-yard touchdown pass on his first snap back, but the sophomore has been practicing through pain this week.

With Fields less than 100% in the title match, Wisconsin should be able to frustrate the dual-threat quarterback, who the Badgers sacked five times and held to a 54.5 completion percentage (Fields’ lowest rate of the season) back in Week 9.

Stats don't lie about Ohio State's greatness

The Buckeyes still appear to be the better team by a large margin and are heavily favored. They rank first in the nation in points per game (49.9) and average scoring margin (+38.1), second in opponent yards (232.6) and third in yards per game (534.8), rushing yards (281.2) and opponent points per game (11.8).

Ohio State is 10-1 against the spread versus teams with a winning record and 9-2 in its last 11 conference games. The Buckeyes are also 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven games against Wisconsin, though the underdog is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight in this series.

The Buckeyes have been a team of destiny all season, and Fields' injury shouldn’t stand in the way. Saturday will offer Ohio State the opportunity to head into bowl season with added confidence and the top seed in the College Football Playoff.

Pick: Ohio State -15.5

Bet all the games from NCAAF championship week on BetAmerica!