Staff Predictions: Wisconsin (B1G Champ Game)
INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes have owned the series through the years over Wisconsin with a 60-18-5 edge overall. Ohio State is currently riding a seven-game winning streak over the Badgers and two wins in the Big Ten Championship game, most recently in 2017.
Of course Ohio State already holds a win this season over the Badgers as the two teams have already met in a 38-7 win by Ohio State during a rainy day at Ohio Stadium.
For what it is worth, the Badgers did a good job of slowing down Ohio State early in the game, keeping the Buckeyes off the board until midway through the second quarter of the game. But once things got rolling on the ground, they did not stop with Ohio State running for 264 yards and three scores as weather conditions were not optimal for the throwing game as Justin Fields was held to just 167 passing yards but even with that, he still found Chris Olave for a pair of touchdowns.
On the other side, Jonathan Taylor was held to just 52 yards on 20 carries, a dismal 2.6 YPC. Jack Coan only threw for 108 yards and while he did find Quintez Cephus for a touchdown strike, he only completed nine other passes on a low-output outing.
How will this time differ? Sure, it won't be at Ohio Stadium, but it sure looks like it will be a highly-partisan Ohio State crowd by early returns on ticket sales.
No, it won't be raining inside Lucas Oil Stadium, but will that even matter as Ohio State will also have the benefit of playing on the fast track with an offense that puts up two touchdowns more a game than the Badgers and allows a field goal less per contest?
We make our picks here in round two between the Buckeyes and Badgers, with everything on the line.
Kevin Noon - Publisher
While it may be tough to beat a team twice in a year, how many data points do we have on that when it comes to the Buckeyes. Players win games and Ohio State certainly has more players than the Badgers do.
Since these two teams met the first time around, the Badgers have a couple of solid wins with games at home against Iowa and of course a huge road game for the axe against the Gophers in Minneapolis. In that four-game stretch the Badgers have scored 36 points but on the other side they have also yielded 21 and have not been touched for less than 17 points in any of those games. Going into the first meeting with the Buckeyes, the Badgers had only given up more than 21 points one time, an upset loss at Illinois.
Just for the sake of comparison, Ohio State has scored just shy of 54 points a game in that same stretch and allowed close to 16 points. Yes, two of those games were against Rutgers and Maryland but two of those games were against Penn State and Michigan as well.
I really think a lot of this comes down to how healthy the Buckeyes are. Ohio State would have three weeks to the next game if it makes the College Football Playoff and is not without some dinged up players as Shaun Wade did not go and of course the worry about Justin Fields' knee, among other things.
This game has all the makings of being a major statement game for the Buckeyes. Not that Ohio State needs to make a statement. Rather this game puts the Buckeyes in favorable conditions against a team that they know that they can beat and the opportunity to leave the committee with a major parting note.
Ohio State needed to make a statement in 2014 because Ohio State was on the outside looking in before the game took place. Now, Ohio State needs a big game just to cement its status as the No. 1 team in the four-team playoff and with a more favorable path to the championship game.
Zeke Elliott ran for 220 yards and two scores in that 2014 game, look for JK Dobbins to break that mark. Cardale Jones threw for 257 yards and three scores in that same game, look for Justin Fields to come really close to those numbers as well. It may not be as clean of a game as we saw in 2014, but look for Ohio State to unload in this one and remove all doubt about who the No. 1 team is as this game will kickoff after everyone will know what LSU has done to Georgia. Ohio State 49 Wisconsin 13
First meeting: Ohio State 38 Wisconsin 17
Alex Gleitman - Recruiting Analyst
I started to go down the rabbit hole of playing a team twice and how difficult it is to win, and win big twice. I definitely think Wisconsin will make adjustments from the first time around and has grown as a team, but when push comes to shove, Ohio State’s Jimmy and Joes are better than Wisconsin’s, and I’ll take the Buckeyes’ staff head to head as well.
With that in mind, I think you’ll see a similar end result to the game back in October. Expect the Buckeyes to focus efforts on shutting down Jonathan Taylor and forcing Jack Coan to beat them with his arm. Look for Ohio State to use their speed on offense to hit on some big plays, and also get J.K. Dobbins cooking.
I expect big nights from number 2 on both offense and defense en route to a final score of Ohio State 45 Wisconsin 17
First meeting: Ohio State 31 Wisconsin 20
Keaton Maisano - Staff Writer
This game will not be as ugly as the 59-0 drumming of Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game. It will also not be as tight as the 27-21 escape of Wisconsin in the 2017 Big Ten Championship game. This game will fall in the middle of this spectrum, and while many are writing this game off due to the result in Columbus earlier this season, Wisconsin is a very good football team.
I believe Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin offense severely underperformed in the earlier meeting, and even though Ohio State boasts arguably the best defense in the country, they won't have the overwhelming success a second time around.
That being said, the Ohio State offense also was far from its best the last time around. There will be no bad weather inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and the ideal conditions on the turf should allow Ohio State's athletes to kill the Badgers with speed. It will be interesting to see Justin Fields play with limited mobility, especially going up against the team that sacked him five times in the last meeting. I expect Ryan Day to use a healthy dose of J.K. Dobbins to gain the victory. The offense will set the tone in this one, and bury Wisconsin to help secure the top spot in the playoff. Ohio State 52 Wisconsin 17
First meeting: Ohio State 34 Wisconsin 20
Braden Moles - Staff Writer
I'm not falling into the trap about playing a team for a second time. Jonathan Taylor is an objectively incredible running back, but even with adjustments the Badgers may make to get him going early, I don't think it will last long before Ohio State's talent on defense takes the game over.
Even if Justin Fields is still hobbled up, there's no doubt that J.K. Dobbins will be able to get things moving again. There's no reason to think that Dobbins can't take over against another top rushing defense, and not to mention Saturday will be another opportunity to outplay Taylor, this time on a neutral field with no weather to slow anybody down.
Also, this late in the season, these are the types of games where the teams with the most depth can really start to take over games. Wisconsin's first-team defense is good, but once the starters are winded in the fourth quarter of their 13th game of the season, who do they turn to? In this situation, the Buckeyes still have four and five star recruits they put in to help close things out.
I also think there will be a factor of Ohio State trying to go for style points so they don't lose the No. 1 College Football Playoff ranking to No. 2 LSU who is a favorite over No. 4 Georgia. The Buckeyes would certainly rather have some say in where they play the playoff semifinal, Glendale or Atlanta, so Ohio State may stay aggressive later in this one than they have in other games this season. Ohio State 42, Wisconsin 13
First meeting: Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 17
Ross Fulton - Analyst
Ohio State has the unique situation of a rematch with Wisconsin. The Badgers should not be underestimated based upon the first game's 38-7 final score. Wisconsin is 10th in SP+, putting them in the same ballpark with Penn State (9th) and Michigan (12th). The Buckeyes may have caught the Badgers off-guard in their initial contest with their 4-4 package. Now there is ample film on targeting that front. Look for Wisconsin to use a game plan similar to Michigan, using 12 personnel (2-TE sets) to get Ohio State to play the 4-4 to enable opportunities to throw the football, targeting their tight ends and Jonathan Taylor in the boundary flats with the passing game. It will be interesting to see how much the Buckeyes use the 4-4 and whether they continue the trend from the second half against the Wolverines of mixing in cover-1 from that look.
Conversely, the Ohio State passing offense was hobbled early in the first game by the constant rain. That will obviously not be an issue this week. The Buckeyes were eventually able to crack the Wisconsin defense by stretching their 3-down odd front laterally with bash and outside zone, and by featuring Chris Olave on man beater routes against soft man coverage. Watch for whether the Badgers try a different strategy of playing more of their 2-down nickel package to better defend the edge. Regardless, Wisconsin will still likely be aggressive with their linebacker pressures, as the best way to short-circuit Ohio State offensive drives remains creating negative plays. Ohio State 41 Wisconsin 22.
First meeting: Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 19
Kirk Barton - Former Captain
Wishful thinking on my part, but we are better than the 2014 team at pretty much every position save running back and maybe WR (Mike Thomas anyone?). I look for our All-Big Ten OL to steamroll and open lanes for JK, who will surely want to make a statement about losing the RB of the year to Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Defensively, it’s going to be the Chase Young show again. It is a fast track and it’ll be loud in that dome, so expect to see some turd stains in the pants of the Wisconsin tackles after Chase beats them off the count a few times. Buckeyes big. Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0
First meeting: Ohio State 42 Wisconsin 14
NevadaBuck - Bringer of Nuggets
The top two teams over what seems like the past decade link up in Indy to get this big time launching pad towards the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Justin Fields has a last ditch chance to win the Heisman, so I think Day showcases him, especially if Georgia gets by LSU.
Defensively, Chase Young will also look to replicate his monster performance from the first game, and I’m looking for 5 sacks in his Heisman campaign pitch. Ohio State 45, Wisconsin 21
First meeting: Ohio State 35 Wisconsin 7
@FakeUrban - Twitter Icon
As I said back in October, the Wisconsin Badgers football team is a sham. They are in a crappy division and frankly it’s not that big deal to beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers, another sham team. Jonathan Taylor has allegedly found his stride but guess what, he’s only played against one decent defense the entire season, against us. In that game he didn’t run for squat. He’ll fare slightly better on Saturday but not by much.
J.K. Dobbins ran all over the Badgers on that rainy October day. Expect more of the same. Plus we’re playing inside this weekend where things like the wind won’t cause fumbles. We will run and pass with ease.
Defensively all we need to do is stop Taylor. Let them try to throw. They won’t succeed. We’ll crowd the box and that Hornibrook kid or whatever his name is this year will get sacked by Chase Young and a bunch of guys not named Chase Young. Once again the Fighting Cheeseheads will fade into the Indiana night and be saddened that they played Ohio State in a championship game. Onto the playoff. Ohio State 48, Wisconsin 10
First meeting: Ohio State 45, Wisconsin 13