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No. 1 Ohio State kills Selection Sunday suspense by rallying past No. 8 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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For about 20 minutes on Saturday night, it seemed we were in for an interesting Selection Sunday. No. 8 Wisconsin led No. 1 Ohio State 21-7 and, with the 12-0 Buckeyes bid already secured, it became a discussion point as to whether the winner of an Ohio State-Wisconsin Big Ten Championship could jump a 1-loss Big 12 champion at the 11th hour, a la 2014.

And then the second half kicked off.

Ohio State accepted the ball to open the second half and rolled 75 yards in five plays, as Justin Fields found Chris Olave for a 50-yard gain and tight end Jeremy Ruckert for a 16-yard touchdown. Then the Buckeye defense forced a three-and-out, Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti dropped the ball, and the College Football Playoff selection committee might as well have shut their television sets off and gone home. Ohio State only turned that dropped punt into a field goal, but the writing was on the wall in Sharpie.

Zach Hintze missed a 48-yard field goal that would’ve stretched the Wisconsin lead to 24-17, KJ Hill (who, earlier on the drive, became Ohio State’s all-time leading pass catcher) put Ohio State on top with a 16-yard grab with 2:23 to go in the third quarter, and then put the game away for good with a 13-yard scoring catch with 12:09 to play.

While time will tell if it’s enough to hold off No. 2 LSU for the right to avoid No. 3 Clemson, Ohio State raced past the Badgers with a 27-0 second half to win its third straight Big Ten championship game, 34-21.

After slow starts each, Fields finished 19-of-31 for 299 yards and three touchdowns, while JK Dobbins carried 33 times for 172 yards and a score. After rushing 13 times for 135 yards and a score in the first half, Jonathan Taylor mustered just 13 yards on seven carries in the second half — including a loss of six on a 4th-and-2 pitch from the Ohio State 32 with 2:39 remaining, as Chase Young swallowed the Wisconsin running back and ended the comeback effort before it truly started.

Though it didn’t end well, Wisconsin did indeed come out swinging.

Paul Chryst‘s team won the toss, elected to receive, hit Quintez Cephus for a 27-yard completion on the first play of the game and scored on a 44-yard Taylor run.

Ohio State moved into Badger territory on its first possession, but Fields was stuffed for no gain on a 4th-and-7 run from the Wisconsin 34. The Buckeyes moved into Wisconsin territory again on their second try, but Fields was sacked on 3rd-and-10 from the Wisconsin 34 and this time Ryan Day punted.

Taking over after the punt at its own 20 with 1:20 to play in the first quarter, Wisconsin pieced together a vintage Wisconsin drive: 14 plays, 80 yards, six and a half minutes and capped by a 6-yard Taylor run, who became the seventh player to top 6,000 yards in the process of putting the Badgers up 14-0 with 10:19 to play in the first half.

Wisconsin again sacked Fields on 2nd-and-10 on the ensuing possession and Ohio State appeared headed for a three-and-out, but Day dialed up a pass from punter Drue Chrisman to Luke Farrell for 21 yards, keeping a drive alive that eventually reached the Badger 4, where Fields fumbled the ball away on a 3rd-and-goal run.

However, Ohio State forced a Wisconsin punt and then finally got on the board when Dobbins leaped into the end zone with 42 seconds left in the half. Wisconsin might’ve been content to take its 14-7 lead to Lucas Oil Stadium’s home locker room, but Taylor popped a 45-yard run to the Ohio State 30 — in the process becoming the first 100-yard rusher against Ohio State all season. Another Taylor run pushed the ball to the 25, and then Jack Coan hit Cephus for a leaping 24-yard grab, and Coan did the rest, putting Wisconsin back up 14 with 10 seconds left before halftime.

J.K. Dobbins makes Heisman statement as No. 1 Ohio State blasts No. 13 Michigan (again)

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Another year, another victory for No. 1 Ohio State (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) against No. 13 Michigan (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) in the Jim Harbaugh era. The Ryan Day era picks up right where the Urban Meyer regime left off in this series. The Buckeyes roared past the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a 56-27 beat down of their rivals from north of the state border. Behind a strong running performance by J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State extended its winning streak over Michigan to eight straight, sending yet another senior class off without a loss to Michigan.

Dobbins rushed for a career-high 211 yards and four touchdowns. This was the second time Dobbins eclipsed the 200-yard mark on the ground, and he moved up the school’s all-time rushing list earlier in the game, moving past Ezekiel Elliott and moving in behind two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin. In the process, Dobbins may have made his own case to head to New York to lay claim to his own Heisman Trophy.

In a showdown of former SEC quarterback who transferred to the Big Ten, Justin Fields certainly had a better performance compared to Michigan’s Shea Patterson. Fields didn’t have an excellent day with completion percentage, but the passes he did connect on were huge. Fields still ended the game with 302 passing yards and four touchdowns with one touchdown pass to four different Buckeyes (K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson). Patterson had a rough day throwing the football but also had a 300-yard day (305 yards) but with just one touchdown pass. Patterson was also dropped for a loss of 20 yards in the game and had a crucial red-zone fumble in the first half.

The 56 points given up by Michigan was the most points allowed to an opponent in Michigan Stadium in regulation in program history. Illinois scored 65 points in 2010 for the most points scored by a visitor in Michigan Stadium, but 20 of those points were scored in overtime of a thrilling 67-65 victory by the Wolverines.

For Ohio State, the ultimate goal falls above simply beating Michigan. The top-ranked Buckeyes appear to be locked into position for a run to the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State now will prepare for its third consecutive Big Ten Championship Game. But first, the Buckeyes will sit back and watch to find out just who they will be playing. Ohio State will meet the winner of today’s Minnesota-Wisconsin game, which will crown a division champion in the Big Ten West to determine Ohio State’s next opponent. The Buckeyes will essentially lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win next week, but even a loss may not eliminate an Ohio State team that will end the regular season with good quality wins against a top 10 Penn State and a top 15 Michigan to go along with an earlier win this season against Wisconsin and Cincinnati.

The loss for Michigan will knock the Wolverines out of the running for a possible spot in the New Years Six bowl lineup, so a landing spot in the Citrus Bowl may be in the cards for Jim Harbaugh his program. Harbaugh is now 0-5 against Ohio State. The Wolverines will visit Ohio State next season.

Buckeyes get off to slow start but charge into halftime up 10-0 on Wisconsin

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A combination of two of the best defenses in the Big Ten and rain has led to some sloppy conditions for Ohio State and Wisconsin on offense. As such, it has taken a while to see some points being scored, but Ohio State is taking a 10-0 lead into halftime in Columbus. A touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Chris Olave in the final minute of the half gave the Buckeyes the double-digit lead.

Chris Young has been a beast for Ohio State’s defense, as the Badgers have had their work cut out for them. Jonathan Taylor has been limited to 25 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Jack Coan has completed just four passes for 26 yards (on nine attempts). Wisconsin has just 72 yards of offense, while Ohio State has picked up 180 yards. J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 51 yards for the Buckeyes, and he has caught two passes for 37 more yards. Fields has had pressure at times from the Badgers and has completed 8 of 14 passes for 109 yards.

Blake Haubeil finally managed to get some points on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter. With Ohio State’s offense stalling at the Wisconsin 32-yard line, Haubeil converted on a 49-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead.

So it looks like we have a good game on our hands heading to the second half. But will Wisconsin be able to score?

No. 4 Ohio State breezes by Northwestern, setting half the stage for B1G showdown with Badgers

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No. 4 Ohio State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) got a four-touchdown night from quarterback Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 121 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Buckeyes easily took care of business against Northwestern (1-5, 0-4 Big Ten) Friday night in Evanston. Ohio State’s 52-3 victory against the same program they face din last season’s Big Ten championship game was hardly a contest from the start.

Ohio State marched down the field on the Wildcats on the opening drive of the game with a pair of third-and-long conversions to keep the drive alive. Fields connected with a wide-open Chris Olave for an early touchdown to finish off the drive. After leading just 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, the Buckeyes put the game away in the second quarter with a 24-0 outburst. Ohio State scored three more touchdowns after halftime as even the backups got into the scoring mix.

While the Ohio State offense was once again putting up big points, the defense was dominant against a struggling Northwestern offense. The Wildcats managed to pick up just 42 passing yards by Aidan Smith, who had a rough night against Chase Young and the OSU defensive front.

No. 6 Wisconsin will be in action in the state of Illinois Saturday with a road game at Illinois. If all goes according to script, Ohio State will host Wisconsin in a matchup of undefeated Big Ten division leaders and top six programs next Saturday. The game could be a preview of the Big Ten Championship Game.

As it stands now, Ohio State owns sole possession of first place in the Big Ten East. Penn State has a chance to move into a tie for first place in the division Saturday night with a home game against Michigan. The Wolverines have lost once in Big Ten play this season and need a win to keep pace with Ohio State.

While Ohio State now prepares for its stiffest challenge of the year, Northwestern will once again look to regroup. While it may get easier next week, a home game against Iowa is anything but a walk in the park for the Wildcats. Northwestern is on the brink of being ineligible for a postseason bowl game, as the program needs five wins in its final six games in order to qualify for the postseason this year.

To say Ohio State and Northwestern are going in opposite directions is a gross understatement.

Big second quarter puts No. 4 Ohio State on cruise control at Northwestern

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Ohio State opened Friday night’s game at Northwestern with a touchdown drive and scored three more touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 31-3 lead on the hapless wildcats into halftime in Evanston. Justin Fields has thrown three touchdowns (two to Chris Olave) and J.K. Dobbins has one rushing and one receiving touchdown as the Buckeyes appear to be taking care of business in a scarlet and gray-clad Ryan Field.

Ohio State thrived on third-and-long on the opening drive. As Northwestern was unable to get its defense off the field, any chance to make things interesting appeared destined to fail for the underdog. Northwestern has welcomed back Isaiah Bowser at running back, but there hasn’t been much to write home about for Pat Fitzgerald and his program so far.

Northwestern did suffer a couple of key injuries on defense in the first half. Starting defensive tackle Trevor Kent left the game for medical evaluation. And defensive end Earnest Brown left the game and has been ruled out for the remainder of the game with what has been described as an upper-body injury.