Meyer knows tough turnaround from rivalry to conference title game
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State will seek the 36th Big Ten championship in school history on Saturday night when it meets Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Big Ten Championship Game. The contest between the Buckeyes and Badgers will be broadcast nationally on FOX with Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft on the call.
The Buckeyes finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, 8-1 in the Big Ten, and claimed the East Division championship outright with a 31-20 victory over arch-rival Michigan last Saturday in Ann Arbor. Ohio State overcame a 14-0 second-quarter deficit and scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to earn their sixth straight win over the Wolverines. Freshman J.K. Dobbins rushed for 101 yards and scored a third-quarter TD while Mike Weber put the game out of reach with a 25-yard TD run with under two minutes to play.
Defensively, Sam Hubbard finished with a big day, registering 2.5 sacks, five tackles and a forced fumble. Denzel Ward had eight tackles, two pass breakups and blocked an extra point while Jordan Fuller also had a key fourth-quarter interception.
Saturday will be the Buckeyes’ third Big Ten title game appearance and first since 2014 when they defeated Wisconsin on their way to winning the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship. Ohio State has won outright or shared six consecutive Big Ten divisional titles: Leaders Division crowns in 2012 and 2013 and East Division titles from 2014-17.
Setting the Stage: Buckeyes vs. Badgers
Ohio State is playing in its third Big Ten Championship game:
In 2013 Ohio State lost to Michigan State, 34-24; and
In 2014 Ohio State defeated Wisconsin, 59-0.
This will be the 82nd meeting between Ohio State and Wisconsin since the initial game in 1913. Ohio State leads the series, 58-18-5.
The Buckeyes are officially 56-26 in night games (those starting after 5 p.m. local time), including a 40-21 mark in road or neutral site games. This year, Ohio State is 3-1 in night games with all three of those wins coming on the road.
Head coach Urban Meyer is 13-5 in his career in games played in December or January.
The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 18-7 in games played indoors.
Urban Meyer’s Buckeye teams are 5-3 in games at neutral sites.
The Buckeyes reached the 10-win mark for the sixth consecutive season, all under the direction of Urban Meyer.
The Buckeyes rank fifth in the nation averaging 43.8 points/game.
Wisconsin has the nation’s No. 1 ranked scoring defense (12.0 points/game).
J.K. Dobbins is just 48 yards shy of breaking Maurice Clarett’s freshman rushing record of 1,237 yards (2002).
Saturday will be the fourth consecutive game in which the Buckeyes and Badgers meet as ranked opponents.
Champions of the Big Ten West Division, Wisconsin is the nation’s lone remaining FBS unbeaten team after finishing its regular season with a 31-0 shutout of Minnesota last Saturday.
The Badgers are led on offense by freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who has rushed for 1,806 yards and 13 TD this season. A five-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Taylor needed just seven games to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes for 2,157 yards and 21 touchdowns. His favorite target is tight end Troy Fumagalli, who has 38 receptions for 471 yards and four TD.
Wisconsin’s defense is led by the duo of Ryan Connelly (71 tackles, 10.0 TFL, three sacks, three QB hurries) and T.J. Edwards (67 tackles, 11.0 TFL, two sacks). Those two have been the key parts of a unit that ranks No. 1 nationally against the run, allowing an average of just 80.5 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers also rank No. 1 nationally in total defense (236.9 yards/game) and No. 2 in scoring defense (12.0 points/game).