Ohio State goes into the Big Ten Championship game for the 2nd year in a row with dreams of a national title on the line. Ohio State sits one spot away from making the new College Football Playoffs. A win against the Badgers on Saturday night could boost the Buckeyes into the playoffs even if the other 4 teams win. Here are a couple things to look for.

• Look for Ohio State to get out to a fast start. The Buckeyes have gotten off to a number of fast starts this year (148 1st quarter points). Also Wisconsin is known for getting off to slow starts like they did last week against Minnesota (69 1st quarter points). They were down 17-3 in the first half. The key for Ohio State is to get off to a fast start and make Wisconsin get away from their game plan of running the ball. Make Wisconsin play catch up the entire game.

• How does Cardale Jones handle the pressure? We don’t know. This will be his first start. Jones has the skill set and the ability to run this offense. He has a strong arm and the ability to make any throw. This can get him into trouble at times when he trusts his arm too much. He also has the ability to be effective running the ball. Meyer won’t be afraid to call designed runs for Jones, especially in short yardage situations. It is important that Jones gets off to a good start. He needs to complete his first couple of passes and make the Badgers defense respect his arm. I assume Wisconsin will come out with 8 or 9 guys in the box and try to pressure Jones to get the ball in the air. Does Jones have the skills to keep the Buckeyes in the game?

• The Buckeyes need to find a way to stop Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. That’s easier said than done. Gordon has had an unbelievable season that will likely result in him winning the Heisman. He’s rushed for over 2,600 yards and has 37 touchdowns. The Buckeyes’ strength is not their run defense. They’re 40th in the nation in rushing yards per game. However, the Buckeyes were successful at keeping Gordon in check last year when they faced off, where they held him to under 100 rushing yards. If the Buckeyes can duplicate that performance they should be able to win this one easily.

• Ezekiel Eliot and the running backs have to step up for the Buckeyes with the loss of J.T. Barrett. Ohio State will presumably rely heavily on their rushing attack. Wisconsin has the 8th best rush defense in the country. However, Eliot was able to have a huge offensive day against Michigan State which is 5th in the nation in stopping the run. He ended that game with 154 yards and 2 touchdowns.

• Look for Jalin Marshall to have a big game in the wildcat. He was a quarterback in high school and I expect him to throw a couple of passes against Wisconsin. I expect Coach Meyer to use Marshall a decent amount in an attempt to take the pressure off  Jones.


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