Matchup: #13 Wisconsin vs. #6 Ohio State (Wisconsin -4.5, 52.5 at JustBet)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 7th @ 8:15 pm (EST)
Location: Indianapolis, IN (Airing on FOX)
Preview: The #6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will have one more chance to state their case for a right to be in the national championship playoff when they take on the #13 ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten championship game from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are currently 11-1 and ranked 6th in the national championship playoff rankings. They are coming off a 42-28 win over rival Michigan, yet they suffered a huge loss in the 4th quarter losing starting quarterback J.T. Barrett for the season with an ankle injury. The only blemish on the Buckeyes’ record is a loss to Virginia Tech early in the year but since then they have won 10 straight. By far their most impressive win was a 49-37 win over Michigan State in East Lansing. Taking the snaps for injured Barrett will be sophomore Cardale Jones. Jones will have a lot of talent around him. The Buckeyes body of work is pretty solid, on offense they are averaging 503 yards per game, and are running the ball effectively, averaging 257.42 yards per game behind standout running back Ezekial Elliott (1182 yds, 6.0 ypc). Their defense is solid as well, allowing just 333 yards per game. Their pass defense is exceptional, allowing just 188 yards passing per game. What helps is their pass rush, as they’re 10th in thre nation averaging 3 sacks per game.
The Wisconsin Badgers survived quite a scare last Saturday rallying from a 14-3 deficit to defeat Minnesota 34-24. Minnesota’s offense is pretty effective behind Heisman trophy candidate Melvin Gordon, who has tallied 2260 yards averaging 8 yards per carry. The Badgers have two quarterbacks, with Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy splitting time, yet neither have impressed much this season totaling just 1751 yards passing between the both of them. Their offense is without a doubt centered on the run game, as they’re ranked 119th in the nation in passing. The Badgers defense is solid, ranked 3rd in the nation in total defense, allowing just 260 yards per game.
There’s been a lot of stuff going on in the past week in Columbus, with news of J.T. Barrett being lost for the season. The team is also dealing with the tragic death of a teammate, as news broke early this week that the body of Kosta Karageorge was found and had apparently committed suicide. Listen, is Wisconsin talented? Absolutely, if Ohio State didn’t lose their starting quarterback, the Buckeyes would probably be a 2 or 3 point favorite. Here we have one of my favorite handicapping angles. The injured player theory. When one guy goes down, the rest of the team steps up their effort. Throw the stats out of the window, I’m getting a very talented Ohio State team getting points against a one dimensional offense. Not only that, but you would have to think that the Buckeyes will be emotionally charged as well. These are situations that I love, and where Urban Meyer thrives. If the Buckeyes were favored in this one, I wouldn’t have even looked at this game. But when a player goes down, it creates value as the public often overreacts. Melvin Gordon is an exceptional player, we all know that, but I can see Ohio State containing him somewhat, as they are the faster team on the field. Here’s another thing….Has Wisconsin seen Cardale Jones play in Urban Meyer’s offense? Nope…As far as I’m concerned, all of the value is on Ohio State in this one. I’m grabbing the points and believe they have a very good chance of winning this outright.
2014 Big Ten Championship NCAA Football Pick: Ohio State +4.5, Over 52.5
2014 Big Ten Championship Score Prediction: Ohio State 28 – Wisconsin 27