This is arguably the biggest game in Wisconsin Badgers football history.
A lot has been said about the 1963 Rose Bowl against USC, or the 1994 Rose Bowl win against UCLA that permanently set the Badgers on a path to reestablishing excellence on the field.
Now, a win in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game by the Badgers (12–0, 9–0 Big Ten) over the East division-winning Ohio State Buckeyes (10–2, 8–1) could not only solidify a conference title, but essentially lock down a spot in the College Football Playoff.
To accomplish that, the Badgers will have to earn a victory against the toughest opponent they have faced this season, a conference foe they have not beaten since 2010.
When and where is the game?
Wisconsin and Ohio State will kick off at 7:17 p.m. CT at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
How can I watch?
The game will be broadcast on FOX with Gus Johnson assigned to play-by-play duties, Joel Klatt as the analyst, and Jenny Taft reporting from the sideline.
How can I stream the game online?
How can I listen to it on the radio?
On national radio, you can listen to the game on Compass Media with Gregg Daniels assigned to play-by-play duties and Dale Hellestrae as the analyst. You can stream the game on CompassMediaNetworks.com.
On the Badgers Sports Network, you’ll find the team of Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas with former Wisconsin safety Scott Nelson assigned to sideline reporting duties. Head to BadgerSportsNetwork.com to find the broadcast. You can also listen on iHeartRadio (iOS/Android/online) by searching “WIBA.”
On satellite radio, you’ll find the broadcast on Sirius 134/XM 196.
Who and what to watch during the game
Wisconsin’s defense vs. J.T. Barrett (probably/maybe?!?) and Ohio State’s rushing attack
The Badgers’ defense, top-two nationally in numerous categories, will be tested against its toughest challenge yet. If J.T. Barrett—the three-time Big Ten quarterback of the year who had surgery on Sunday— does play, it will be interesting to see just how much of a factor he truly can be.
OSU's Meyer noted that JT Barrett has been getting treatment 15 hours per day. Meyer says he will decide starter (Barrett/Haskins) sometime tomorrow.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) December 1, 2017
From our Q&A preview of the Buckeyes:
Barrett leads an offense ranked first in the conference in scoring (43.8 points per game), total offense (529.8 yards per game), and rushing offense (250.3 yards per game). The Buckeyes have a dynamic tandem at tailback in J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, but they also rank second in the conference in passing (279.5 yards per game) with an attack features the likes of K.J. Hill (51 receptions, 519 yards, three touchdowns).
Wisconsin’s secondary will have its hands full while dealing with a talented receiving corp, but as usual, it needs to contain both Barrett (672 rushing yards, 5.2 yard per carry) and the duo of Dobbins and Weber (1,190 and 602 yards respectively, plus a combined 17 touchdowns). UW leads the nation in rush defense (80.5 yards allowed per game) and the most it has allowed was the 143-yard effort against Maryland back in October.
On the flip side, Ohio State has rushed for over 200 yards nine times in 12 games, including two 300-plus-yard efforts against Michigan State and Illinois towards the end of the season.
“Obviously, they’re all great athletes and they can make you miss and they can run you over,” inside linebacker Ryan Connelly said, “so it’s going to be a unique challenge for us especially because they like to fool with your eyes. They like to get you looking one way. Next thing you know, they’re going the other so it’ll be a hard challenge for us, but I think it’s one we’re looking forward to.”
The Badgers will give up some yards on Saturday, but they have to contain the rushing attack enough to force third-and-longs and make a potentially less-mobile Barrett or back-up Dwayne Haskins beat them through the air.
Wisconsin’s rushing attack and tight ends vs. Ohio State’s front seven
UW is second in the conference in rushing yards per game (243.3) while OSU ranks fourth in the conference (13th in the nation), allowing only 112.8.
Wisconsin’s offensive line will have to move the likes of all-conference performers Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, and Sam Hubbard. That’s a tall task as those three anchor an impressive defensive line.
“Pretty much don’t lean and keep your eyes wired in on your landmark basically,” right guard Beau Benzschawel said when asked how to defend those Buckeyes, “because with those shifty guys, if you’re following their head, they’re going to make you look kind of stupid.”
If the offensive line can contain the rush defense of Ohio State, Wisconsin could allow Jonathan Taylor (1,806 yards) to get to the second level and beyond. It could also provide an opportunity to make plays in the passing game with Big Ten tight end of the year Troy Fumagalli and Kyle Penniston.
The Buckeyes gave up four receiving touchdowns to Iowa tight ends in their second loss of the second in November. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook will need to be kept upright and allowed to get into a rhythm. Fumagalli and Penniston could be his go-to options depending on how Ohio State decides to scheme against them.
Jake Kocorowski: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 17
Owen Riese: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 27
Kevin O’Connell: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 20
Ryan Mellenthin: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 20
Drew Hamm: Wisconsin 35, Ohio State 21
Bob Wiedenhoeft: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 23
Championship edition, and I’m ready for the press box’s soda dispenser. My Walk-On This Way co-author knows me too well.
Just imagine if there was catered Chick-fil-A. Hoo boy, I’d be swimming in waffle fries.
Anywho, back to predictions. Some last-minute heroics from some:
Gags wins the game with FG as time expires.— Ri0 (@riod_m) December 1, 2017
Game will last 3 hr 50 min due to so many 3 and out drives.— Tom Novitske (@Tommers71) November 30, 2017
Badgers win 16-13 on Gaglianoni FG late in the fourth.
Wisconsin comes out on top, 28-24, with Hornibrook throwing the winning TD in the 4th quarter and the defense making one final stand at the end to seal the win.— OberSports (@obersports41512) November 30, 2017
Via defense or special teams, UW scores before their offense takes the field.— Kaleb Gottwald (@Kaleb_Gottwald) November 30, 2017
... and Barrett doesn’t play a snap.— Jay (@Jay3B3) December 1, 2017
Nick Nelson is due for an interception this year with all of his pass break-ups. Will it come in the most crucial game played to date?
Nick Nelson’s 1st INT comes in the final minute as he seals a 31-24 badgers win— Tyler Morgan (@tyler_morgan28) December 1, 2017
Nick Nelson has a pick 6— Casey Koeser (@bjwaves17) December 1, 2017
More pick-six talk:
Chris James scores a td.— Former Hundley-truster (@ladadadeedada) December 1, 2017
Hornibrook throws a perfect game, 2 picks 6s by Nelson and Dixon, JT runs for 120 yards, 53 yard FG for a Badgers win 24-21.— Reese's (@justdoitoutdoor) November 30, 2017
If JT Barrett takes more snaps than Haskins, Bucky wins— Cheesetrader (@cheesetrader1) November 30, 2017
If Haskins takes more snaps than Barrett, Bucky loses
Badgers 27-21— Nathan (@Kobb44) December 2, 2017
Wisconsin 31— Chryst's Sweatshirt (@pcSweatshirt) December 1, 2017
Ohio State 24
24-17 Badgers— David Roelke (@DavidRoelke) December 1, 2017
Wisconsin has 3 (or more) touchdowns by freshman and win by double digits.— RyGuy (@Ryguy3223) November 30, 2017
36-16 Wisconsin— Tanner Mcevoy Fan (@TMcEvoyFan19) November 30, 2017
Badgers win 59-0— FutureMayorOfMadisonBradDavison (@jdavidsavor) November 30, 2017