Ohio State Favored by 18 for B1G Title vs. Wisconsin

BruceHooley

It was supposed to be the game of the year in the Big Ten and it most assuredly was not, so maybe now that it looms as a sure cure for insomnia, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin will actually prove compelling.

Fox, which will broadcast the 7 p.m. Saturday game for the conference championship, certainly hopes so or Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt will have the better part of three hours to fill.

Not a stretch for them, but still...

The Badgers (10-2) are 18-point underdogs to the No. 1 Buckeyes (12-0), who disassembled them like a cadaver in a 38-7 beating in Columbus on Oct. 26.

That's the biggest point spread in the 10-year history of the Big Ten championship game, exceeding even the 15 1/2-point margin oddsmakers accorded OSU last season against then-No. 21 Northwestern.

How the spread could grow from last season to this season against a seemingly-stronger, significantly-higher-ranked opponent is a measure of Ohio State's dominance, not just in the earlier matchup against the Badgers, but all season.

OSU's 56-27 victory Saturday at Michigan completed an unbeaten regular season in which no opponent came within 10 points of the Buckeyes.

Penn State's 28-17 loss in Columbus two weeks ago was the closest game Ohio State played. Otherwise, it embarrassed the competition by 24 or more points every week.

OSU's average margin of victory was 38.7 points. Yes, 38.7, which is eerily reminiscent of the whipping it put on the Badgers in their last defeat.

J.K. Dobbins bulled for 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns; quarterback Justin Fields threw for 167 yards and two TDs and Chase Young terrorized the Badgers with five quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles.

Dobbins was even better Saturday at Michigan, rushing for 211 yards and four TDs.

Of course, Jonathan Taylor is the Big Ten's leading rusher, with 1,761 yards to Dobbins' 1,657, but he had no success against OSU in October (20 carries, 52 yards) nor in the 2017 Big Ten title game.

Dobbins won game MVP honors that night with 17 carries for 174 yards. Taylor finished with 41 yards on 15 carries.

Wisconsin will have to find a way to spring Taylor this time around against the nation's No. 4 run defense, 91.2 yards per-game, or use him as more of a decoy, like they did Saturday to win the Big Ten West.

Taylor carried only 18 times for 76 yards in two scores in a 38-17 win in the snow at Minnesota.

Quarterback Jack Coan threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but the Badgers will have to dramatically alter their failed Oct. 26 strategy of single-blocking Young if they want to keep their quarterback upright.

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