Ohio State hands Wisconsin 1st defeat as Buckeyes claim Big Ten Title

Written by Garin Turner
Let the chaos as to which team is more deserving for a spot in the College Football Playoff start as the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes defeated No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers 21-14 in the Big Ten Championship game.

With the win, Ohio State will wait for its fate later on today at 12 pm ET when the College Football Selection show begins on ESPN.  There’s talk between the Buckeyes and Alabama who were idle this weekend. USC, who won the PAC 12 Championship game on Friday, has an outside shot as well.

The Buckeyes are in an ironic spot this year. Last year at this time, they stated their case as they were better than Penn State, who won the Big Ten Title game which Ohio State wasn’t a part of. Ultimately, Ohio State was picked over Penn State. This year it’s Ohio State that are the Big Ten champs and of course Alabama is in the SEC, they think they’re the better team than the Buckeyes and are lobbying for a spot in the College Football Playoffs. With Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma winning their championship games, they are all likely in the playoffs. The fourth and final spot is the issue. “We have two wins over two top-for teams, and another one, I believe they were ranked 12th to 13th. We’re the conference champions. I love these guys. I’ve never been more proud of a group of players, and we deserve a shot,” Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyers said.

Both defenses showed up in the Big Ten Title game. Wisconsin forced three turnovers including two interceptions thrown by J.T. Barrett who started the game after having surgery last weekend after a leg injury in the Michigan game.  The Buckeyes forced a pair of interceptions from Alex Hornibrook.  “It’s championship atmosphere, you know everything has to be earned. They (Wisconsin) didn’t hold back even when we were up. We just had to execute. I thank our defense because they really picked us up when we needed it.” Ohio State Wide Receiver Terry McLaurin said.

For Hornibrook, his first interception came on Wisconsin’s second drive of the game. The Badgers were in the red zone when Buckeye cornerback Denzel Ward make a great grab and landed in bounds for the turnover. Ohio State capitalized on the turnover when Barrett connected on an 84-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.

After a Wisconsin punt, Barrett threw a pick six to linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel who ran nine yards for the score evening it up 7-7.  The Buckeyes never trailed in the game but it was far from a lock as the Badgers hung tough.

Wisconsin’s running game never got going thus putting a lot of pressure on Hornibrook. Heisman Trophy hopeful running back Jonathan Taylor was held in check the entire game. Taylor only managed 41 yards on 15 carries. He also contributed three receptions for 30 yards.

Hornibrook threw the ball 40 times, completing 19 of them for 229 yards with zero touchdowns and the two interceptions.

Barrett was 12 of 26 for the Buckeyes for 211 yards and two touchdowns and the two interceptions. Barrett also ran for a score and had 60 yards on 19 carries. “He has had one of the most unique careers at Ohio State football. I am so thankful he is my quarterback. The toughness he showed is what we fed off,” Ohio State Defensive End Sam Hubbard Jr said.

J.K. Dobbins led the way on the ground with 17 carries for 174 yards. The Buckeyes outgained the Badgers 449-298 even though the Badgers controlled the clock for 34:06 to just 25:54 for the Buckeyes.
Wisconsin is likely to face USC in the Rose Bowl game. A lot has been made this year about Wisconsin’s strength of schedule or lack thereof. Wisconsin didn’t receive a lot of respect this season. One rival did however. “We did, and we have great respect for Wisconsin. We have great respect for the Big Ten Conference, arguably the toughest conference in America, and we’ll gladly represent it and be the champions of our conference,” Meyer said.

(Photo Header Credit Tom Crockett)

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