The Landscape: 2017 Big Ten Championship Game
Time: Saturday, Dec. 2, 8:00 PM
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Matchup: Ohio State (10-2 Overall, 8-1 Big Ten) vs Wisconsin (12-0 Overall, 9-0 Big Ten)
Same stage. Same schools. Different stakes. What does that mean? Well, don’t expect 59-0, for starters.
This is a very different Wisconsin team, but an eerily similar Ohio State team. A weak loss during the regular season, some convincing wins over top-ranked opponents, and definitely the talent to be a top-four team in the country.
But have they deserved to be in that position? No. They haven’t. We will see how this game goes though, and play the rest by ear. Just let tonight happen first.
Who will show up for the Bucks:
We don’t even know if J.T. is 100% confirmed playing yet, though he likely will. Will he be 100% himself if he is the starter? That’s the real question at hand. We can’t expect him to sling it the way he did against Penn State or Michigan State. Gonna need some help.
Weber and Dobbins have to play their role that they’ve played all year. Wisconsin has usually been known to have a stingy run defense (only allowing 80 yards per game this year), but the Bucks can’t be stunted by that if they want to win and have a shot at the playoff. 70 yards from each back is needed.
Who they got:
As I’ve said many times this year, Ohio State picked a great season to have one of the best defensive lines of all time. Heck, Nick Bosa won Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, and most didn’t know if he’d even be a starter.
Why that’s needed: Jonathon Taylor. Maybe the most under-appreciated back on the most under-appreciated team in all of college football. The kid is averaging seven yards a carry, has 13 touchdowns and has the potential to go over 2,000 yards if he has a breakout game here.
Now, he’s only caught four passes all year, if that says anything about the aerial attack of The Badgers, but he’s a huge threat.
OSU – 21
Wisconsin – 14
If Ohio State wants into the playoff as their fans have been so desperately screaming for, they need to win, and win big. That’s the advantage the Bucks have coming in, is that they know they can’t take the pedal off at any point. We can only hope Urban has them frothing at the mouth in light of that.
Wisconsin’s advantage? They can play the underdog card. They are the undefeated team. They are the ones ranked five. They clearly control their destiny. Yet everyone is saying this two-loss Buckeye team is going to push them away like it’s nothing?
They are only letting up 12, yes 12 points a game this year. It won’t be a cakewalk. They’ll want to avenge that embarrassing shutout from 2014. I’m taking the Bucks off talent alone, but the way this year has been, I honestly won’t be surprised by anything. Even if Bill Murray runs on the field in the last two minutes.