Saturday’s Big Ten championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 1 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, No. 2 in the AP poll) and the Wisconsin Badgers (No. 8 in the CFP rankings, No. 10 in the AP poll) was surprising until it wasn’t. Wisconsin jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first quarter and was up 21-7 at the half, but a 17-0 third quarter put Ohio State back in the lead, and the Buckeyes then added 10 more unopposed fourth-quarter points for a 34-21 win.
For Ohio State, running back J.K. Dobbins was one of the brightest stars of the night. Dobbins carried the ball 33 times for 172 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Meanwhile, quarterback Justin Fields was contained early, but posted a solid overall performance, completing 19 of 31 passes (61.3 percent) for 299 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Here are a couple of the Buckeyes’ offensive highlights: a spectacular end-zone catch from tight end Jeremy Ruckert, and one of K.J. Hill’s two touchdown catches on the night.
We’re never going to stop watching this.
Jeremy Ruckert. Insanity. pic.twitter.com/KCTw5oKtU4
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 8, 2019
Third and long conversion for Ben Victor, and then a touchdown pass to K.J. Hill gives Ohio State a fourth quarter cushion pic.twitter.com/rFv0GqYUL7
— Buckeye Sports Bulletin (@Buckeye_Sports) December 8, 2019
After a slow start, the Ohio State defense also found their footing. On the evening, the Buckeyes held Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan to 17 completions on 33 attempts (51.5 percent) for 232 yards with no touchdowns (although he ran eight times for 27 yards and two touchdowns), and while they gave up 148 rushing yards and a touchdown to Jonathan Taylor (on 20 carries, an average of 7.4 yards per carry), much of that came early on. The Ohio State halftime adjustments seemed to shut down most of the Badgers’ offense.
The Buckeyes now seem headed to the playoff, but just where they’ll play and who they’ll face isn’t known yet. But their opponent will likely be either third-ranked Clemson, which beat 23rd-ranked Virginia 62-17 Saturday for the ACC title, or sixth-ranked Oklahoma, which beat seventh-ranked Baylor 34-31 in overtime Saturday for the Big 12 title. Second-ranked LSU beat fourth-ranked Georgia 37-10 Saturday for the SEC title, making the Tigers the other likely playoff participant, but not likely a first-round opponent for Ohio State. ESPN will air the CFP selection show Sunday beginning at noon Eastern. The semifinals will take place Saturday, Dec. 28 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix.