Check out the Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin fearless prediction and game preview.
Ohio State (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (12-0) Game Preview
Broadcast, TV, Game Time
Date: Saturday, December 2nd
Game Time: 8:00 pm ET
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Win and you’re in, Wisconsin.
Arguably the most successful program over the last 20 years without a lick of anything close to resembling a national championship run, this is it for the Badgers.
This is the chance to blow off all the doubters, the naysayers, and the negativity around a season with a mediocre schedule, a relatively dull football formula, and without a win that made anyone sit up and take notice.
None of that matters. Win, be the only 13-0 team in college football, get into the College Football Playoff as either the two or three seed and – most likely – go off to the Rose Bowl.
Win and you should be in, Ohio State.
A repeat blowout of the 59-0 stomping of the Badgers in the 2014 Big Ten Championship would do it – and an Oklahoma win over TCU would help the overall cause – but just being the team that handed Bucky its only loss of the season might be respectable enough.
Win, and then the Buckeyes would claim wins over the current CFP No. 4, 9 (Penn State), and 16 (Michigan State) teams – all better than anything Alabama can boast.
And, they would have a Big Ten Championship.
It would be the third CFP appearance in the four years of the tournament, and it would erase all the craziness and drama over the Greg Schiano Tennessee fiasco, Sideline Cameragate at Michigan, and even the brutally-ugly blowout loss at Iowa.
Wisconsin hasn’t been pushed. Every win but the 33-24 win over Northwestern and 17-9 win over Purdue was by double digits – but there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in either game. You know what you’re getting.
You don’t know what you’re getting out of Ohio State.
Is it the team that came out and ripped up Michigan State in a frightening display of firepower in 48-3 win, or is it the one that didn’t get off the bus in the 55-24 loss at Iowa, or is its the one that was inexplicably flat in the loss to Oklahoma and the win over Michigan.
Here we go. It might not be the sure-thing play-in game like Michigan State vs. Iowa was in 2015, but this might just be the best Big Ten Championship matchup yet in the College Football Playoff era.
One Reason Why Ohio State Will Win
If it comes out with the right tempo, the right speed, and the right explosion, the Buckeyes might turn the lights out before the first quarter is over.
Wisconsin is all about control. Control the pace, control the lines, control the narrative. The Badgers have yet to be pressed, outside of having to march back late against Michigan – they don’t have the wide receiver weapons to throw their way back into the game.
What Michigan started to try – before QB Brandon Peters was knocked out – was challenge the Badger corners deep. Start throwing, and keep throwing. This UW secondary will make plays, but being the nation’s No. 2 pass defense – and No. 1 in pass efficiency D – is a mirage.
Who on the Wisconsin schedule can throw a forward pass? Nebraska’s Tanner Lee, and he had some success. Indiana’s Richard Lagow was able to throw a little bit, but that’s about it.
J.T. Barrett – assuming the knee is ready to roll – has to come out fast and sharp, with a slew of quick-hitters to get his guys in space, get into a rhythm, and get the ball out of his hands in a hurry so the Badger D line doesn’t get time to try rolling into the backfield.
Wisconsin wants Ohio State to try to get physical. It wants to go toe-to-toe. It wants the to be a slugfest, not a track meet. OSU might have the Big Ten’s top rushing offense, but if this becomes about who runs the ball better, Wisconsin will take its chances.
One Reason Why Wisconsin Will Win
Barrett and the Ohio State offense have to stay on the sidelines.
It sounds so simple, but Wisconsin just has be Wisconsin.
It has to run well on first down. Run well on second down. Convert the makable third down throw on that little run-to-the-line-and-turn-around play that remarkably works every time no matter what.
This is the No. 2 team in the nation in third down conversions, but Ohio State is fourth. Wisconsin has to dominate the time of possession like it always does, it has to crank up the third down D that’s allowing teams to convert just 29% of their third down tries, and most of all, they have to tackle in space.
This group just doesn’t seem to miss an open-field tackle. Ever.
The Badger pass rush has to hurry Barrett – who hit just 3-of-8 passes for 30 yards before getting knocked out – and then everyone has to keep the five-yard throw to a five-yard gain.
Barrett took over in last year’s win over Wisconsin by using his legs. This year’s Badger D is a bit different – it’ll be more than happy to see No. 16 try to take off.
This is a smart, sound, even-keel team that doesn’t have any ounce of panic in it. It’s not going to be fazed by playing Ohio State with the College Football Playoff on the line.
What’s Going To Happen
Again, it all depends on whose style works.
Wisconsin can control the game for 50 minutes, and then … boom, boom, boom. Ohio State can strike fast.
The Badgers haven’t seen anything like this attack.
Iowa’s offense? AWFUL, at least, when it’s not playing Ohio State.
Michigan? No. Northwestern? No. Purdue? Nebraska? Utah State?
But here’s the thing. Unlike most teams that come up with a great record against a bad schedule, or somehow find themselves unbeaten by coming through in the clutch time and again, this one has worked its way up to this point.
It’s as if it went through a nine-game training season, and then, when challenged by an Iowa team that destroyed Ohio State – boom. It turned the machine on.
It went from knowing it was going to beat Maryland, Illinois and Purdue by simply doing what it does and not screwing up, to cranking the dial a few notches.
The defense did it again against Michigan, and the offense did its part in the second half to put it away.
And now, Wisconsin should be ready for its final exam.
Bucky has to frustrate the Buckeyes. Ohio State will commit penalties, it’ll make mistakes, and it’ll be off from time to time, but it usually makes up for it with a home run soon after. But Wisconsin tends to pounce as soon as anyone messes up.
The Buckeye offense will have its moments, but slow and steady will win the race.
Wisconsin will hold the ball for what seems like an eternity, the defense will come up with the stop here and there to take any momentum back, and the Badgers will slug their way to a 13-0 record and a trip to the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff.
Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Prediction
Wisconsin 30, Ohio State 26
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