The Battle At Lucas

Intriguing Game- Big Ten Championship

(8) Ohio State Buckeyes at (3) Wisconsin Badgers

Ohio State: As good of a team that they have been, this year, I came to notice something with the Ohio State Buckeyes and that’s their consistency levels have fluctuated all over the place this year. So, what’s this mean? I’ll gladly explain it: One week, they look like one of the three best teams in the nation and the next, they will struggle and look completely out of sync. A perfect example of this is when they played Penn State and I remember saying prior to that game that the winner would win the division and they’d have a better shot at potentially being a playoff team. That was the win of the year for Urban and the Buckeyes as they erased an 18-point lead and won the game by one point. The following week, they were blown out by the Iowa Hawkeyes. After that loss, they’ve been on track since then and fixed a few things. Ohio State is at its best when they come into a game with the right tempo meaning they establish the speed of the game in their favor and their offense is clicking on all cylinders. They have the serious potential to put the lights out before the first quarter. This is a good football team led by the best coach in the country not named Nick Saban. With a win in Indianapolis on Saturday night under the lights, this will be the Buckeyes second conference championship under Urban and second in four seasons and this could also turn into them reaching the playoffs for the third time since its inaugural year in 2015. There’s definitely a lot on the line for the team from Columbus.

Wisconsin: They’ve received no type of love this season even if they were undefeated. People will talk about the fact that they have had a “weak/soft schedule” but here’s the thing though: You play who you play at the end of the day and right now, they deserve to be at this point of the season. Not many know about this team and what they are able to do. They aren’t fancy with the football which I like, Paul Chryst keeps it simple as possible. When I watch them, they are the definition of a power football team. Power blocking, power running and they feel they can simply run you over to move the chains down the field. The recipes for success for them have always been having an offensive line that wants to get physical in the trenches and control the line of scrimmage and they want to run the football. Their offensive line is one of the best, if not, the best in the nation and they do it all. They pull, open up holes for the runners and pass block to give Alex Hornibrook more than enough time to throw the ball from the pocket. Their best player has been Jonathan Taylor, the freshman running back who isn’t the fastest, but he’s a contact runner and he’s at his best when he’s hit. They also have one of the best defenses in the nation as well. This is the chance to make people really notice them. They’re on the big stage in the Big Ten title game.

Ohio State Player To Watch: J.T. Barrett– He’s been my x-factor for them all year long and on the biggest stage, he needs to be exactly that, BIG TIME. Assuming he’s ready to go after dealing with a lingering knee issue that sidelined him for the rest of the game, he has to come out clicking on all cylinders. He has to be sharp, he has to come out and throw the football quickly and that’s what will keep his guys in the game.

Wisconsin Player To Watch: Alec James– What’s made Wisconsin’s defense stand out this year has been their pass rush and they’ll have their hands full on Saturday night with a quarterback that loves to use his legs to get yards. I’m highlighting this kid. A six-foot-four senior from Brookfield, Wisconsin. He has very active hands, he has the length to knock the ball down when he can’t get to the quarterback and he has the motor where he always wants to make a play.

Final Analysis: When these two met in the Big Ten title game back in 2014, this game was over at the half. Does 59-0 ring a bell? It sounds so simple, but Wisconsin simply has to be just that, Wisconsin. Don’t come out trying to be something your not. They have to run the football and pound Taylor. Run it on first down, run it on second down and convert on third down. The Badgers are the second team in the nation in converting on third down. It’s key for Ohio State to get the ball rolling in their favor. I’d even take a page out of Michigan’s playbook and attack the secondary of the Badgers.

Prediction: Wisconsin 30 Ohio State 24