It’s Wisconsin’s chance to prove itself to the world. With a win, the Badgers will be headed to the College Football Playoff. With a loss, no one will be surprised, while Ohio State could sneak its way into the CFP itself. The Buckeyes were -7 point favorites early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Indianapolis.
A lot of people are assuming Ohio State will win this Game due to Urban Meyer and J.T. Barrett, but it won’t be that easy. Only a year ago, it was the same situation and the Buckeyes needed overtime in a 30-23 win. Similar to the Michigan Game last week, Wisconsin’s defense should cause problems for OSU with or without Barrett, who is probable to play after injuring his knee last week. The Badgers are undefeated because of a defense that gives up just 12 points and 80 rushing yards per Game.
The best way to beat Ohio State is to stop its run Game, which Wisconsin is the best at. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber were slowed down against the Wolverines, but still ended with a combined 150 rushing yards. The question is how mobile Barrett will be with his knee injury. If he can’t move as well, that will help the defense in stopping Dobbins and Weber. Barrett was everything in this Game last year, rushing for 92 yards, while throwing for another 226, and if he’s not 100 percent, that could open the door for Wisconsin.
But the door is only open a small amount because Ohio State also has an elite defense holding teams to 112.8 rushing yards per Game. The only thing Wisconsin’s offense can do is run the ball and if that doesn’t work, it’ll be hard to score. But the Badgers already faced the elite rush defense of Michigan and Jonathan Taylor still ran for 132 yards in that one. Taylor has been impressive as a freshman with 1,806 yards and 13 touchdowns all on 7.0 yards per carry. He’s going to be fed early and often, but if that doesn’t work, Wisconsin doesn’t have many other options unless Alex Hornibrook airs it out. Hornibrook remains a problem in the offense with 13 interceptions and has failed to throw for more than 160 yards in the last five Games. But everyone knows this about Wisconsin, yet Taylor continues to find holes on the ground that allows the offense to move the ball consistently.
A lot of this Game could depend on what Barrett can do with his injury, but even if he was fully healthy, it’s hard to see the Buckeyes running away with it. Wisconsin’s defense is legit and while Ohio State is loaded, Barrett and company have been slowed down a few teams in recent seasons against any of the elite defenses from Michigan State to Alabama.
The Buckeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral-site Games, but 1-4 ATS in their last five overall. The Badgers have covered in their last Four, but are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 at a neutral site. The underdog is 12-3-1 ATS in the last 16 meetings between these schools, but Ohio State is 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine.
Our Pick – Wisconsin +7