This Saturday the Wisconsin Badgers (12-0) will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) in the 2017 Big Ten Championship Game. The contest will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts). Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST and will be televised nationally on FOX.
Oddsmakers currently have the Buckeyes listed as either a 6.5 or 7-point favorite with the total set at 53 points. Check out our Week 14 college football lines for a full betting schedule, plus more links to our individual game previews.
Wisconsin vs Ohio State Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview
The Badgers concluded their perfect regular-season with a convincing 31-0 blowout win at Minnesota as a 18.5-point favorite. Wisconsin led 17-0 at the half and added touchdowns in both the 3rd and 4th quarters to extend their lead. The Gophers were lucky it wasn’t a lot worse, as the Badgers had a 456 to 183 edge in total yards and 20-8 advantage in first downs.
The Buckeyes kept their playoff hopes alive with a 31-20 win on the road over their hated rival Michigan. Ohio State did fail to cover in that contest as a 12-point favorite. Ohio State was actually a bit fortunate to even get the win, as they trailed 14-0 early in the 1st half and were down 14-20 with less than 2 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter.
These two didn’t face off in the regular season. The most recent meeting came in the middle of last season, which the Buckeyes escaped with a 30-23 overtime win. Wisconsin led all the way up until the 4th quarter and had a 23-20 edge with less than 5 minutes to play in the final period.
College Football Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Ohio State -6.5
As much respect as I have for Wisconsin and what they have been able to accomplish this season, my money here would have to be on Ohio State laying less than touchdown. While the Badgers can’t do anything about the schedule they were dealt, there’s no denying the fact that they have had it easy to this point. Their toughest game all season was at home against Michigan and while they won 24-10, it was a lot closer than the final score would indicate.
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Wisconsin now takes a massive step up in competition this Saturday when they face Ohio State and I just have a hard time seeing them keep this one close. Offensively, the Badgers are a team that relies heavily on their ability to run the football. That’s a problem, because this Buckeyes defense is as good a unit against the run when they are on as you will find.
That means in order for Wisconsin to have success offensively, Alex Honibrook and the passing game will need to play a big role. I just don’t see it happening. The Badgers come in ranked 118th out of 130 FBS teams with a mere 182.8 yards/game through the air. So little was asked from Hornibrook that he only attempted more than 20 passes in one conference game. It’s also worth noting that he’s prone to mistakes. Prior to the Minnesota game, where he didn’t throw a pick, he had thrown at least one interception in 8 straight games. I expect him to add at least a couple more picks to his resume against the Buckeyes.
As for the Wisconsin defense, there’s no denying that they are strong on that side of the ball. However, I’m not quite convinced they are as good as the numbers would suggest. Over their 9-game Big Ten schedule the best offense they faced was Northwestern, which finished the year ranked a mere 59th in total offense, averaging 405.2 ypg. Six of their nine opponents ranked 85th or worse, with five 100th or worse. Ohio State is unlike anything they have seen, as the Buckeyes come in 4th in the nation averaging 529.8 ypg and can beat you with both the run (13th, 250.3 ypg) and the pass (27th, 279.5 ypg).
This reminds me a lot from the 2014 season when these two teams played in the Big Ten title game and Ohio State won 59-0 as a mere 4-point favorite. Keep in mind that was with a 3rd string starting at quarterback. It might not be quite that ugly, but I just don’t think it’s asking a lot of the Buckeyes to win here by at least a touchdown.