Ohio State-Wisconsin II is on tap for Saturday night in Indianapolis.
With Lucas Oil Stadium getting set to host the Buckeyes and Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game, here are six things to know about the matchup:
1. It’s a rematch.
Ohio State trounced Wisconsin 38-7 on Oct. 26, a total team win that saw the Buckeyes run for 264 yards and throw for 167.
The defense allowed 83 yards rushing and 108 yards passing to round out a dominating victory that allowed Ohio State to improve to 8-0 and dropped Wisconsin to 6-2.
“Obviously we’re excited to be back in the Big Ten Championship game,” Ohio State center Josh Myers said Monday on a conference call to preview the game. “It’s always an honor and it’s such a fun game to play in. Obviously we’re going against a great opponent so we’re really excited.”
2. The Badgers have been much better since then.
Wisconsin entered the first matchup coming off an upset loss at Illinois, and the Badgers endured their worst day of the season at Ohio Stadium.
Since then, Wisconsin is 4-0 with wins over Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Minnesota.
While the defense has remained strong, the Badgers offense has awoken, averaging 36 points, 299 yards rushing and 204.5 yards passing.
3. Wisconsin still has a top 10 defense.
The Badgers finished the regular season ninth in the country in points allowed (14.6 per game) and sixth in total defense (277.0 per game). They are No. 7 against the run and No. 9 against the pass with the No. 5 pass efficiency rating.
Wisconsin leads the nation in third down defensive percentage while the offense is also efficient in such situations, ranking seventh.
Overall, Wisconsin is 17th nationally in scoring (35.6 points per game), 36th in total yards (442.6), 15th in rushing (243.9) and 96th in passing (198.7).
In terms of advanced stats, Wisconsin is No. 10 in the country and third in the Big Ten in SP+ with the No. 11 offense and No. 14 defense. Similar to OPS in baseball, SP+ measures play-by-play efficiency and big-play ability while adjusting for opponent and game situation.
4. This will be the third Big Ten Championship game that is a rematch of a regular season game.
The Badgers played in the first two, also. They avenged a regular season loss by taking down Michigan State 42-39 in the inaugural game in 2011 and did so again a year later when they humiliated Nebraska 70-31.
Wisconsin has played in five Big Ten Championship games and won two while Ohio State State is looking to improve to 4-1 in the game.
“It’s interesting because you have a lot of perspective on the team, and you also know that they’ve seen so much of what we do,” Myers said. “There’s a difference in watching on film and living it.
“There’s going to be probably a significant more amount of preparation going into this game and obviously we’re fully aware that they’re going to do things that they haven’t done yet and we’re going to see things that they haven’t ever showed on film before and we have to prepare for it as best we can.”
5. Ohio State and Wisconsin have played in this game twice before.
The Buckeyes famously blew out the Badgers 59-0 in 2014, a game that launched an unforeseen run to the national championship.
Three years later, they had a tougher time dispatching Wisconsin but ultimately prevailed 27-21.
“It’s good to take a good deep breath and look at that moment and just know you’re there, and you earned it so you don’t have to change anything how you prep,” said Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. “Stay consistent, who you are, and at the end of the day you’re playing football and you’re playing for a championship.
“I just tell my guys just to be you and don’t change you. Just be the best you.”
6. Ohio State hasn’t played a rematch since the 1975 season.
After beating UCLA 41-20 in October, the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes lost to the 11th-ranked Bruins in the Rose Bowl 23-10, costing coach Woody Hayes what would have been a sixth national championship.
Ohio State also played a few rematches in the 19th century, including in 1894 when they were swept by Wittenberg. The Tigers won 6-0 in a game at the state fairgrounds and topped the Buckeyes 18-6 in Springfield that year.
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