INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in three years, Ohio State is champion of the Big Ten Conference.
The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin on Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship Game, 27-21, behind a stout rush defense and multiple big plays in the first half.
After much uncertainty about his availability for the game due to a knee injury, quarterback J.T. Barrett had an up and down performance for the Buckeyes. The redshirt senior finished the game 12-of-26 passing for 211 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of costly interceptions.
|No. 8 OHIO STATE||14||7||3||3||27|
|No. 4 WISCONSIN||7||3||3||8||21|
The Ohio State defense limited Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor, who led the Big Ten in rushing this season, to just 41 yards on 15 carries as the Badgers finished with just 60 yards rushing as a team on 32 attempts.
The Buckeyes, playing with an 11-point lead, got the ball to start the second half but went three-and-out following a holding call.
Wisconsin answered with its second field goal of the game from Rafael Gaglianone, bringing the Badgers within a score at 21-13. Ohio State answered with a field goal of its own on the following drive, which was set up by a 53-yard run from J.K. Dobbins, to take a 24-13 lead.
Despite forcing a pair of Wisconsin punts on the next two Badger drives, Ohio State failed to capitalize. Barrett threw his second interception of the game late in the third quarter, which led to an early fourth quarter score from running back Chris James. The Badgers then converted on a two-point conversion, to pull within three at 24-21 with 12:39 to play.
Ohio State countered with yet another Sean Nuernberger field goal that capped a 15-play, 72-yard drive with just 5:20 to play in the game. Wisconsin failed to do anything with its next drive, punting to the Buckeyes with 3:20 to play. However, Ohio State went three-and-out, giving the ball back to Wisconsin with 2:59 to play.
|449||NET TOTAL YARDS||298|
|5.7||AVERAGE PER RUSH||1.9|
|17.6||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||11.9|
|9||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||5|
|5||PASSING 1st DOWNS||10|
|2||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||1|
|6.6||YARDS PER PLAY||4.1|
The Badgers marched into Ohio State territory, however a holding call forced Wisconsin into a 1st-and-20. Two incompletions from Alex Hornibrook followed, before Damon Webb intercepted a last-second heave to seal the victory for Ohio State.
After trading three and outs to open the game, Wisconsin marched into Ohio State territory, taking the ball inside the Buckeye's 20-yard line. On first down, Hornibrook fired a pass towards the front pylon of the end zone for tight end Troy Fumagalli. Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward intercepted the throw at the 4-yard line, ending the Badger threat.
Four plays later, Ohio State was in the end zone as Barrett found wide receiver Terry McLaurin over the middle for an 84-yard touchdown to open the scoring. The Buckeyes forced the Badgers to punt on their ensuing possession, yet Wisconsin was able to get on the board.
After getting pinned at the 2-yard line by the Wisconsin punt, Barrett rolled to his right and threw a pick-6 to Wisconsin linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, who returned the errant throw nine yards for a score, knotting the game at 7-7.
It didn't take long for the Buckeyes to respond though, as Barrett connected with Parris Campbell on a short bubble screen on the next possession, a completion that Campbell took 57-yards for a score.
Ohio State extended its lead again on its next possession as Dobbins exploded up the middle for a 77-yard gain down to the Wisconsin 1-yard line, setting up a short run from Barrett to put the Buckeyes up, 21-7.
After Wisconsin failed to convert a 3rd-and-short on its next possession, the Badgers once again elected to punt from inside their own 40-yard line. On Ohio State's first play of the ensuing drive though, running back Mike Weber fumbled on his own 11-yard line. The loose ball was recovered by Van Ginkel, and led to a 28-yard field goal from Gaglianone.
The final drive of the first half saw Barrett miss a pair of would-be touchdown passes, before the Buckeyes were forced to settle for a 43-yard field goal attempt. The kick was blocked by the Badgers however, sending the Buckeyes into halftime with an 11-point advantage.
- J.T. Barrett's touchdown pass to Campbell was his 35th of the year, breaking his own record of 34 set in 2014.
- Dobbins passed Maurice Clarett on the all-time freshman rushing yards list with his 77-yard carry in the first half.
All three of Ohio State’s touchdowns occurred in the first half. It’s the first time this season that the Buckeyes did not score a TD in the second half.
- Jerome Baker totaled 16 tackles (12 solos, 4 assists), breaking the Championship Game mark of 13 by Wisconsin’s Chris Borland (2012), Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis (2013) and Penn State’s Brandon Bell (2016). Baker’s 12 solos also was a record.
Ohio State now leads Wisconsin in the schools’ all-time series, 58-18-5. OSU has won its last six games against the Badgers.