Big Ten Championship Game Preview & Predictions

Ohio State comes into the Big Ten title game on a 10 game winning streak, but lost backup-turned-starting quarterback J.T. Barrett for the rest of the season due to a broken ankle. They'll rely on third-stringer Cardale Jones against Wisconsin, who has ridden the play of Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon to a Big Ten West championship.


Ohio State: 11-1 (8-0 Big Ten)

Wisconsin: 10-2 (7-1 Big Ten)

Ohio State Outlook:

This game is as much about style points for the Buckeyes as it is about winning the game. Ohio State is fighting for a berth in the College Football Playoff, and their chances of making it took a big hit when Barrett went down.

He was the catalyst behind the nation's fifth highest scoring offense (44.1 points per game), and they'll have to change the way they've been playing with Jones under center. Expect to see a lot more runs from this offense on Saturday.

Wisconsin Outlook:

Speaking of running the ball, that's what Wisconsin does best, led by Gordon. They rank third in the country in rushing yards (334.3 yards per game) in large part due to their star running back's record breaking season (2,260 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns).

The Badgers don't do much in terms of passing the ball, as they've relied almost entirely on Gordon to get them to this point. He's had success against everyone he's faced, but if you stop him, you stop Wisconsin.

What to watch for:

This is not the ideal game for a quarterback to make his first start of the season. Not only will Cardale Jones be playing on a huge stage, he has to face the country's fourth best scoring defense (16.8 points allowed per game).

Look for the Badgers to stack the box to try and force Ohio State to throw the ball more than they would like to. If they're successful, they'll win the game. However, if Jones is able to be productive, Ohio State will have a leg up in the game.

Prediction: Wisconsin wins 24-14

It's only natural for Ohio State to struggle with new quarterback under center, and we saw how that affected them earlier in the season. The last time they played a tough defense with a new quarterback was against Virginia Tech, who beat the Buckeyes in Columbus. Melvin Gordon will do enough to carry Wisconsin's offense, and I don't think Ohio State will be able to keep up.

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