Big Ten title game’s grand prize could be playoff ticket
No. 3 Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten, CFP No. 4) vs. No. 8 Ohio State (10-2, 8-1, CFP No. 8), Big Ten championship at Indianapolis, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Ohio State by 6 1/2.
Series record: Ohio State leads 58-18-5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Badgers and Buckeyes are playing for a possible playoff ticket. Wisconsin also is trying to extend its school record undefeated season and claim its first Big Ten title since 2012. But if the Buckeyes capture their 36th conference title, they might need help to reach college football’s final four.
Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett vs. Wisconsin defense. Barrett says he is healthy enough to play after missing the end of last week’s game with a knee problem. When he has been good this season, he’s been very good. But he couldn’t finish the Michigan game because of a knee injury. The Buckeyes could really use his mobility against one of the nation’s stingiest defense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wisconsin: RB Jonathan Taylor. The Big Ten rushing champion has been sensational all season and put himself into Heisman Trophy contention by giving the Badgers a different look. Taylor is a breakaway threat, averaging 150.5 yards per game and 7.0 yards per carry.
Ohio State: Barrett and QB Dwayne Haskins. Of course, the Buckeyes want their starting quarterback healthy enough to start and finish Saturday. But if Barrett needs to come out, they will turn to Haskins, a redshirt freshman, who was good in relief last week against Michigan and could try to duplicate Cardale Jones’ fill-in performance in the 2014 title game against Wisconsin.
FACTS & FIGURES
Wisconsin is 2-2 in Big Ten title game while Ohio State is 1-1, including a 59-0 blowout over the Badgers in 2014. ... The Badgers are one of two remaining unbeaten teams (UCF) and their 13-game winning streak is the longest in the nation. .... The Buckeyes have won three straight overall and nine of 10. ... Ten of Wisconsin’s wins this season have come by 14 or more points and it has not trailed in the fourth quarter all season. ... RB J.K. Dobbins needs 48 yards to break Maurice Clarett’s school record for a freshman (1,237). ... Taylor needs 120 yards rushing to break Adrian Peterson’s national freshman record (1,925) and 194 yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark. ... Ohio State topped the 50-point mark five times this year and ranks fifth nationally in scoring (43.8 points). ... The Buckeyes have won four of their last five games played indoors.