Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul
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.
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.