The Wisconsin Badgers will head on the road to Indianapolis, Indiana as they prepare for a heavyweight fight against the No.1-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night.
This will be the third time that these two programs will meet in the Big Ten Championship with the Buckeyes winning both meetings in 2014 and 2017. Ohio State has opened the week as 16.5-point favorites against the Badgers, who handled No. 8-ranked Minnesota to win the West division last week. Ohio State enters the week as the No. 1-ranked team in the College Football Playoffs, setting them up for what should be a favorable first-round matchup if they can get past Wisconsin this weekend. Will the Buckeyes get caught slipping against the Badgers in Indianapolis on Saturday night?
Wisconsin has advanced to the Big Ten title game in four of the last six seasons, but they haven’t won a Big Ten Championship since claiming the title in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012. Even with a win, Wisconsin will likely be left out of the College Football Playoffs but they still have plenty to play for in this game. A close loss will likely keep the Rose Bowl within reach for the Badgers but a blowout could keep Wisconsin out of the New Year’s Six altogether. Wisconsin is led by Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for 1,761 yards with 25 touchdowns total touchdowns this season.
The Buckeyes come into the week ranked No. 2 in the AP Top-25 Polls after dismantling Big Ten-rival Michigan last weekend to complete a 12-0 regular season. With a looming matchup in the College Football against Oklahoma, Utah, or Baylor as their most-likely opponents, Ohio State might not face a true test until the National Championship game. Led by dynamic sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and running back JK Dobbins, the Buckeyes own the top scoring offense in the country. Ohio State has scored an FBS-best 49.9 points per game and they rank fifth in total offense at 534.3 yards per game. The Buckeyes also have one of the best defensive players in the country on the other end of the ball, as defensive end Chase Young has disrupted enough plays to keep his name in the Heisman conversation.
Does Wisconsin have a chance against the Buckeyes?Not many people are giving Wisconsin much of a shot to win this game. ESPN’s FPI projects Wisconsin to have a slim 18.4 percent chance of winning this weekend’s matchup against the Buckeyes.
Jonathan Taylor made a STATEMENT against Michigan:— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2019
😤 23 carries for 203 yards
😤 2 rushing TDs
😤 8.8 YPC average
Wisconsin handles Michigan, 35-14 pic.twitter.com/5His2bjuqo
Wisconsin’s offensive is predicated around superstar running back Jonathan Taylor, who has morphed into one of the best running backs in NCAA history. The junior running back has over 5,000 career rushing yards and 54 career touchdowns in three seasons with the Badgers. Taylor has set career-highs in rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns this season, as the team has looked to get him more involved in the passing game. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus has also sparked the passing game in recent weeks, compiling 193 yards and two scores over the past two games.
Finding a way to unleash Taylor on this Buckeyes defense is going to be a tough task against this Ohio State front-seven. In 2017, the Buckeyes bottled up Taylor, limiting him to just 41 yards on 15 carries. That marked the lowest per-carry mark of his career (2.6) until his matchup with Ohio State this season when the Buckeyes used a four-linebacker scheme to limit him to just 52 yards on 20 totes. His 2.65 career yards per carry average versus the Buckeyes is by far his lowest against any team in the country.
On defense, the Badgers have surrendered only 14.6 points (9th in FBS) and only 277.0 yards of total offense per contest, which ranks as the sixth-best in the country.
Buckeyes have three Heisman finalistsOhio State is the No.1-ranked team in the College Football Playoff rankings for a reason, as they sport three finalists for the Heisman Trophy award. Fields has been as dynamic a quarterback as we’ve seen as a first-year starter at the college ranks. The sophomore has thrown for 2,654 yards with 37 touchdowns and only one interception this season while adding 470 yards and 10 scores on the ground with his legs. His mobility could be limited this weekend though, as Field will be wearing a bulkier knee brace against the Badgers as a preventative measure, Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch reports. Meanwhile, Dobbins has already climbed to No. 2 on the Buckeyes’ prestigious all-time rushing list.
The Buckeyes dominated their previous matchup against the Badgers earlier this season, defeating Wisconsin at home 38-7. Ohio State limited Wisconsin to only 191 yards of total offense in that game while forcing two turnovers to help keep the Badgers off the board. The Badgers highly-touted run defense had no answer for J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the win. Dobbins has compiled 1,657 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns (19 rushing) so far this season. He’s also been at his best when the Buckeyes have needed him most, averaging a whopping 175.8 rushing yards per game against nationally-ranked Big Ten opponents.
Led by Heisman candidate Chase Young, Buckeyes sport the nation’s No.1 defense, which has limited opposing teams to an FBS-low 232.3 yards of total offense so far this season. Ohio State has also held its opponents to just 11.8 points per game (4th in FBS) and only 91.2 yards per game on the ground (4th in FBS) so far this year. Young, recently named the Big Ten Defender of the Year, has a school-record 16.5 sacks and 19.5 total tackles for loss this season.
- Badgers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.
- Badgers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Buckeyes are 10-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Buckeyes are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.