Either Wisconsin or Ohio State have made an appearance in every Big Ten Championship game thus far. This year, the two programs faced off against one another with high stakes for both teams. Wisconsin was attempting to win their third conference title in four years. Ohio State was attempting to capture their first victory in the Big Ten title game and also persuade the College Football Playoff committee that they are deserving of the final spot in the playoff. And as each play in the game progressed, the Buckeyes' case to the committee grew more and more convincing.
The Buckeyes started the game off fast, finding the end zone after a six play, 77-yard drive that lasted just under two minutes. Making his first collegiate start, sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones looked very impressive on the drive, going 3-for-3 for 56 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith.
Down 7-0, Wisconsin was unable to counter on their first offensive possession. The Buckeyes held Melvin Gordon to only one yard on two carries during the drive (a small preview of what was to come for the rest of the night) and the Badgers were forced to punt after three plays. Wisconsin's defense buckled down on the next possession and forced a three-and-out of their own; but, a 73-yard punt by Cameron Johnston pinned the Badgers' on their own 2-yard line to start their next drive.
On the next play, Dan Voltz, who had already been banged up heading into Saturday, left the game with a left leg injury. With Voltz on the sideline, the Badgers managed to move 34 yards during the drive, picking up two first downs before having to punt once again. This time, Drew Meyer was able to flip the field and pin the Buckeyes on their own 7-yard line to start the drive. But Ezekiel Elliott and the Buckeyes did not stay there for long. Elliott wasted no time running through the Badgers' defense, running twice for 93 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 14-0 with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter.
On the Badgers' next drive, an errant cross-body pass attempt by Joel Stave was intercepted by Vonn Bell on the Buckeyes 42-yard line, ruining what proved to be the Badgers' most promising drive of the first half (4 plays for 38 yards prior to the interception). For the rest of the half Jones and the Buckeyes' offense continued to embarrass the Badgers' defense, running through the defensive line with ease and picking the secondary apart through the air.
Jones connected with Smith for the duo's second touchdown pass of the night, this time finding Smith on a 44-yard dime in the end zone. On the next drive, Elliott scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from 14 yards out. A 4-yard fumble return by Joey Bosa with 36 seconds left in the first half extended the Buckeyes' lead to 38-0 heading into the half.
Ohio State totaled 364 total yards in the first half. The first-time starter Jones looked nearly perfect in the first half, going 10-for-13 in the first half while throwing for 211 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Elliott ran the ball 12 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
For Wisconsin, there was little to be impressed with on either side of the ball. The offense mustered just 91 total yards, (58 passing and 33 rushing), they hadn't come close to scoring any points and they turned the ball over twice in two crucial situations. Gordon carried the ball 14 times, but was smothered for most of the half by the Buckeyes defense, mustering only 43 yards.
The third quarter started no differently, as Wisconsin failed to get the ball past midfield and Ohio State drove 77 yards on five plays, finishing with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Smith--their third touchdown connection of the night.
Ohio State touchdown to Devin Smith for his third touchdown of the night. 42 yards. Buckeyes now lead 45-0. Can they go to a running clock?— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 7, 2014
The action slowed down after that, as each team went back and forth several times without scoring any points. With 11:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes added to their lead with a 12-yard touchdown run by Curtis Samuel to put the Buckeyes up 52-0. Ohio State scored the game's final points with 2:25 remaining, as Samuel found the end zone once again--this time off of a 1-yard run.
The Buckeyes finished the game with 558 total yards on offense. In his first collegiate start, the sophomore Jones finished the game going 12-for-17, throwing for 257 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith hauled in 4 passes for 137 yards and caught all three of Jones' touchdown passes . Elliott was the leading rusher for the Buckeyes, carrying the ball 20 times for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
For Wisconsin, the offense started slow and was never able to sustain any drive throughout the game against a stout Ohio State defense. The offense finished with 258 total yards and was held to season low 71 total rushing yards on 37attempts. Stave went 17-for-43 passing, throwing for 187 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Needing a monster game, Gordon's Heisman hopes took a major plunge after he was able to run for only 76 yards and no touchdowns on 26 carries. There will be much more about this game later on. Tomorrow, we will find out which bowl game the Badgers will play in to finish off their season.