SnoTap Badgers Preview: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin arrives at the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. A place that’s familiar with the players and fans alike. Wisconsin is making its record fifth appearance at the Big Ten Championship game. The first three went pretty well for the Badgers, and the last two haven’t been very special which included a 59-0 beatdown by Ohio State. The two teams meet again with a trip to the College Football Playoff on the line for the Badgers, and potentially another appearance in the final four for Ohio State. It’s one of the biggest games in Big Ten history, and the biggest game in Wisconsin football history.
Ohio State’s rushing attack versus Badgers front seven
To me, this is the biggest matchup of the game. Talented freshman J.K. Dobbins and senior Mike Weber facing off against the best rush defense in the country in Wisconsin. It’s not like the Badgers played slums all year, but this is the best backfield they’ve seen all season. Both have breakaway speed and can hit a home run at any moment. One thing that impresses me about Wisconsin’s front seven is how they close to the football. Whenever a runner gets some space, there’s a sea of red and white there quicker than expected.
Avoiding the obvious passing downs
From watching Ohio State, I think you can run on this football team. Michigan did it a little bit, same goes for Penn State and Wisconsin could replicate what those teams did this season. If Wisconsin can limit the amount of times they’re in third and long, they have a good chance to win this game. The less Alex Hornibrook feels like he has to carry the team, the better. It’s very important for Wisconsin’s quarterback to start off the game with some easy throws and get him comfortable against this defense. If the turnover monster comes out early for Hornibrook, it could be a long, disappointing night.
How much can J.T. Barrett run?
On average, Ohio State’s quarterback runs the ball 10.33 times per game. It’s a major part of J.T. Barrett’s game. That said, he had knee surgery this week but is expected to play on Saturday. You wonder how mobile can he be? If Barrett doesn’t have that part of his arsenal, he will be forced to pass the football more which could lead to a tough day for the Buckeyes offense. In Ohio State’s two losses this season, Barrett’s completion percentage hovered closer to 50 percent and he threw five of his seven interceptions on the year. This defense can frustrate the senior quarterback.
I’m taking Wisconsin in a tight game. There’s a perception that the Badgers cannot hang athletically with Ohio State, and that could not be more wrong. Wisconsin’s defense will continue to impress people like they have the last three weeks, and the offense will do just enough to put the Badgers over the top. UW 20-16