Big Ten Championship Game
No. 8 Ohio State (10-2, 8-1) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0)
Saturday, 8 p.m. (Indianapolis)
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Ohio State: Ohio State shook off a Week 2 loss to Oklahoma by winning six straight, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory over then-No. 2 Penn State. But the triumph of the Penn State win was followed by a clunker: a 55-24 loss at Iowa. Even though the Buckeyes rallied and won its final three to win the Big Ten East, that loss to Iowa could end up keeping the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff, even with a win over Wisconsin.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin cruised through its regular season schedule without much resistance. There were a few semi-close games along the way, but Wisconsin used its tough defense and stellar running game to make quick work of the Big Ten West, which was wrapped up several weeks ago. Michigan was the toughest team UW drew from the Big Ten East, and the Badgers emerged with a 24-10 win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State: Barrett, who has 42 total TDs this year, was injured under bizarre circumstances against Michigan last week. The senior was apparently bumped into by a person with a camera on the sideline, causing his knee to “lock up.” The knee locked up again in the third and the Buckeyes were forced to play Dwayne Haskins for the rest of the game. Barrett, who reportedly had a procedure on the knee in recent days, is expected to play.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor is third in the country with 1,806 rushing yards and has kept a freshman season pace pretty close to Adrian Peterson’s from 2004, when he set the NCAA freshman record with 1,925 yards in 13 games. If Taylor puts up 120 yards against OSU he would break Peterson’s record and, perhaps, cement an invitation to New York City for the Heisman ceremony.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Despite the undefeated record, folks have scoffed at Wisconsin because of its weak schedule all year long. With a win over the Buckeyes, the Badgers could prove their legitimacy before being tested even further in the College Football Playoff. Also, the game features two top 10 defenses and two of the best young running backs in the country: Taylor and Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE: Not only would a win give Wisconsin its first Big Ten title since 2012, it would give the program its first berth in the College Football Playoff. For Ohio State, there’s still an outside chance at a CFP berth with a win over the Badgers, but OSU will need a few other games to shake out in their favor.
Sam: Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 17
Nick: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 20
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