While Saturday’s game between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 13 Wisconsin looked a lot better a week ago, it could still easily be the Big Ten Championship Game matchup in December. What would have been a top-five matchup disappeared last Saturday when unranked Illinois upset Wisconsin 24-23. The Badgers will look to get back on track after their first loss of the season and can add an Ohio State victory to their resume and get themselves back into the playoff conversation.
Ohio State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten East) is the first conference team to start a season with seven consecutive wins by at least 20 points since 1973, when the Buckeyes opened with nine such wins. The Buckeyes have steamrolled each of their opponents by at least 24 points in a 7-0 start. Ohio State leads the nation in margin of victory at 41.7 points.
Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten West) might have been looking past Illinois, but no one accused the Buckeyes of doing the same when they went on the road Friday to dismantle Northwestern, 52-3. The Badgers recorded shutouts in four of their first six games, demolishing Michigan 35-14 in September and beating Michigan State handily (38-0) in the week prior to playing Illinois.
Ohio State is favored by 14.5 points, and the total is set at 49.5.
Badgers Look To Rebound
For the Badgers to pull off the upset, they will need a big day from their star running back, Jonathan Taylor. The junior has rushed for at least 80 yards in every game this season and enters Week 9 with 957 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Taylor has only one previous meeting against Ohio State, as he managed only 41 yards over 15 attempts in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game. Taylor, third nationally in rushing with 136.7 yards per game, will challenge the No. 9 rush defense (92.7).
Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan has been solid in his first full year as the starter. He is 127 of 167 for 1,383 yards and nine touchdowns to just two picks. Quintez Cephus is his favorite receiver with 24 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns. This passing game won’t try and beat the Buckeyes deep but uses play-action to complete short routes that are effective.
Wisconsin’s defense leads the Big Ten by holding teams to just 7.6 points a contest and also ranks first against the run and pass. The Badgers give up less than 200 yards of total offense a game. They are the nation’s best run defense, allowing only 58.4 yards a game. They will be tested by the Ohio State offense, which is by far the most talented group they have faced.
Buckeyes Remain On Track For Playoff Berth
This team has absolutely crushed everyone in their path. The closest anyone has come is a 34-10 rout of Michigan State, which was ranked No. 25 at the time. The Buckeyes average a healthy 49.7 points a game.
Georgia transfer Justin Fields has done a great job of replacing Dwayne Haskins. He is 116 of 164 for 1.492 yards with 22 touchdowns and only one interception.
He has also added eight touchdowns on the ground. Fields has never had to throw the ball more than 25 times in a game thanks to the dominance on the scoreboard and on the ground.
J.K. Dobbins has nearly totaled 1,000 yards on the season. He has rushed for 947 yards on 134 carries with seven touchdowns. His numbers look very much like Taylor’s without all the touchdowns. Binjimen Victor has been Fields’ favorite target with 19 receptions for 355 yards and three touchdowns.
Ohio State has the second-best defense in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin. They allow 8 points per game and 229 yards. Chase Young leads the team with 9.5 sacks on the season.
Free Betting Pick
Ohio State has dominated every opponent it has faced, and, while Wisconsin is the best team they have played, the Buckeyes are just too good. Wisconsin’s defense and Taylor will keep it close, but they just don’t have the balance and depth that the Buckeyes possess. The game starts to get away from them in the second half, and Ohio State pulls away for another double-digit win.
Pick: Ohio State -14.5