When Ohio State beat Wisconsin 38-7 on October 26, the Buckeyes scored 14 more points than any other opponent that faced the Badgers would score during the regular season. Meanwhile, the OSU defense held Wisconsin to nearly 29 points below their average.
Members of the Scarlet and Gray have argued that the team they are facing for the Big Ten title is not the same as the one that they met in the rain at Ohio Stadium, though.
That starts up front. Against Ohio State, Wisconsin gave up five sacks, four of which were recorded by Chase Young. However, they haven't given up five sacks in all their games combined since Young menaced them. And of the three sacks they allowed in November, only one came in the last three games.
With the line blocking so well, running back Jonathan Taylor totaled his highest yards per carry for any month this season (7.4) and recorded three straight 200+ yard games before taking it easy with a mere 18 carries for 76 yards against Minnesota. He now joins Herschel Walker as the only other college football player to run for more than 1,700 yards three consecutive years.
The wide receivers, whether through fly sweeps or running out of the wildcat formation, have also participated in the ground game, with Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor, Aron Cruickshank and AJ Taylor combining on 18 rushes for 228 yards, and three touchdowns during that time. (Taylor will not play against the Buckeyes, though, as he has sustained a season-ending leg injury.)
It's also notable that the run game's improvement did not come at the expense of quarterback Jack Coan. His completion percentage dipped slightly last month; but his yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown numbers in November were all higher than in September or October.
The defensive side of the ball, on the other hand, is a completely different story. After giving up more than two touchdowns (ie. 15 points or more) just twice in their first eight games, they have allowed at least that much in every one of their last four contests.
That's largely a function of team's passing successfully against them. In November, the Badgers gave up 1,050 yards through the air, almost as much as they gave up (1,115 yards) when you add the totals of of September and October together.
Purdue, whom Wisconsin faced November 23rd, finished the regular season as the top ranked passing offense in the Big Ten, but the Badgers also saw Iowa (ranked No. 7), Nebraska (ranked No. 9), and Minnesota (ranked No. 5).
Ohio State and Wisconsin play at 8 p.m. and our pregame coverage starts at 5 p.m.
Other Big Ten Championship notes:
- Ohio State and Wisconsin have faced each other twice in the Big Ten championship with the Buckeyes winning both. They famously won 59-0 in 2014 and later edged out the Badgers 27-21 in 2017.
- This is only the second time in OSU history they have faced an opponent twice in the same season. The other occasion when it happened? A 1975 regular season collision against UCLA was followed up by a meeting with the Bruins in the Rose Bowl.
- Buckeye receiver KJ Hill (188) is four catches away from breaking David Boston's school record (191), and the Buckeye defense (49) is four sacks away from breaking the 2000 team's school record (52).
- Wisconsin already has a new team best for sacks this season as they've recorded 44.0.