No. 8 Ohio State’s offense is simultaneously blowing No. 4 Wisconsin off the field and keeping the Badgers in the game, as the Buckeyes hold a 21-10 lead at the break in the Big Ten Championship. Ohio State’s attack not only put up three scores of its own, but also directly contributed to both of the Badgers’ scores.
But it was a Wisconsin turnover that started the scoring. The Badgers moved into the Ohio State red zone with a great chance to open the scoring, but Alex Hornibrook‘s lob near the end zone was intercepted by Denzel Ward at the 4-yard line. The Buckeyes needed only four plays to traverse the 96 yards ahead of them, the last 84 coming on a Barrett pass to Terry McLaurin to open the scoring.
Barrett then gifted Wisconsin a touchdown with a 9-yard pick-six to Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel. He quickly erased that score, though, completing a 4-play, 75-yard drive with a 57-yard snatch-and-dash to Parris Campbell, giving Ohio State a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After three straight three-and-outs, Ohio State again put together another blitzkrieg drive, this time moving 82 yards in three plays, 77 of which came on a J.K. Dobbins run. Barrett pushed the lead to 21-7 with a 1-yard plunge one play later.
Needing a score to stay in the game, Wisconsin drove to the Ohio State 37, but Paul Chryst elected to punt on a 4th-and-3 instead of going for it or kicking a 54-yard field goal. The decision immediately worked out, though, when Van Ginkel forced a Mike Weber fumble at the Ohio State 11, leading to a 28-yard Rafael Gaglianone with 3:42 left in the half.
Sean Nuernberger‘s field goal on the final play of the half was blocked.
Hornibrook closed the half hitting 8-of-16 passes for 103 yards with an interception and Jonathan Taylor, who entered the game averaging 150 yards a game and seven a carry, was limited to 25 yards on 10 attempts. Despite gaining seven first downs and averaging just 4.54 yards per play, Wisconsin possessed the ball inside Ohio State territory four times in the half — and came away with just three points.
Wisconsin owned a 2-to-1 time of possession edge in the half and ran 35 plays to Ohio State’s 33, but the Buckeyes did much more with the ball in their hands. Barrett hit 8-of-16 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and Dobbins racked up 90 yards on six carries. As a team, Ohio State rushed for 127 yards on 17 carries and averaged 9.36 yards per play on 309 total yards.
It’s at this point we should remind you Wisconsin’s No. 1 ranked total defense managed to limit opponents to 236.9 yards per game while playing half of its schedule against teams that ranked No. 101 or lower in total offense.
Ohio State will receive to open the second half.