Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS – Despite being the lone remaining power-conference school with an unblemished record and boasting the top defense in the country, No. 3 Wisconsin is finding respect hard to come by because of a relatively light schedule. The Badgers will get one last shot at improving their resume in hopes they can lock down a spot in the College Football Playoff when they meet seventh-ranked Ohio State on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.None of Wisconsin’s first 12 wins this season have come against opponents who finished the regular season ranked in the coaches’ poll, which has consistently been the major argument keeping the Big Ten West champions from seeing its name listed among the top four teams in the CFP rankings before securing the No. 4 spot Tuesday. While losses from the top two teams in the last CFP poll – Alabama and Miami (Fla.) – over Thanksgiving weekend certainly helped their cause in that regard, the Badgers took care of business on their end and completed their first unbeaten regular season since 1912 following a 31-0 rout of Minnesota last Saturday. The Buckeyes, who are seventh in the CFP, are headed to the Big Ten Championship for the first time since crushing Wisconsin 59-0 in 2014 en route to winning the inaugural CFP national championship. Ohio State has won three straight since getting pummeled 55-24 at Iowa on Nov. 4 to keep its playoff hopes alive and defeated arch-rival Michigan 31-20 last weekend.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Ohio State -6.5
ABOUT OHIO STATE (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten): J.T. Barrett (2,728 yards passing, 672 yards rushing and 42 total touchdowns) is listed as probable for the championship game after he aggravated a cartilage injury in his right knee before and during this last weekend’s victory over the Wolverines. Before leaving the game for good in the third quarter, Barrett joined Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan (2006-09) as the only players in FBS history to throw for 100 TDs and run for 40 more. Freshman J.K. Dobbins (1,190 yards rushing) spearheads the conference’s top-ranked ground attack (250.3 yards), while sophomore Mike Weber (602) has run for 109 yards per game over his last three outings and leads the Buckeyes with 10 rushing TDs, half of which have come during the winning streak.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (12-0, 9-0): Running back and Doak Walker Award finalist Jonathan Taylor ranks third in FBS with a Big Ten-best 1,805 rushing yards and needs only 120 over the remainder of the season to break the FBS freshman record held by Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson set in 2004. Butkus Award finalist T.J. Edwards (67 tackles – 45 solo and 11 for loss – and four interceptions) and cornerback Nick Nelson (school-record 20 pass breakups) were honored as consensus all-conference selections Tuesday and lead the top total defense in FBS (236.9 yards allowed). Sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook is 19-2 as a starter and ended an eight-game streak of throwing an interception against Minnesota, finishing 15-of-19 for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
1. Wisconsin is only the seventh team in the modern era of the Big Ten (since 1946) to begin a season 12-0, although all seven instances have occurred over the last 23 years.
2. Dobbins is 48 yards shy of breaking Maurice Clarett’s school rushing record by a freshman of 1,237 yards (2002).
3. The Badgers have outscored opponents 226-58 in the second half this season and 192-86 before intermission.