The Big-10 conference is consistently a factory for producing quality NFL players. Last year’s Big-10 Championship game featured 10 draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. This year’s game has a chance to top that, as the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes for Big-10 supremacy. There’s more than just draft stock riding on this game; there’s a likely CFB Playoff berth at stake. The Big-10 is widely viewed as the second-best conference in college football behind the SEC. They have teams that win in different ways and are competitive on both sides of the field.
The underdog Wisconsin Badgers come in as a physically dominant team in the trenches. Their offense starts with star running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has been the most productive rusher in NCAA history through his first three seasons. Taylor is having a down season from a yards standpoint, but has set career highs in rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Taylor provides a new element as a threat through the air. However, Wisconsin has recently been able to succeed through the air without relying on their star running back. Their No. 1 receiver is No. 87, Quintez Cephus, who has produced 193 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. If Wisconsin is to win the Big-10 championship, they’ll need a big game from both of their top offensive playmakers.
From a defensive perspective, the Badgers are one of the nation’s top defensive units. They rank 6th in total yards allowed and 10th in touchdowns allowed. They lack high profile defenders, but are a well-coached unit predicated on the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy. Their offense helps make their lives easier by chewing clock and taking care of the football.
Top Prospects: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Quintez Cephus, iOL Tyler Biadasz, OT Cole Van Lanen, EDGE Zack Baun, LB Chris Orr
The Buckeyes have been the most productive team in the nation, and are heavy favorites to win the Big-10 Championship. They’re first in offensive touchdowns scored and first in defensive touchdowns allowed.
On offensive, the Buckeyes have one of the top receiving units in college football. They also possess one of the most productive rushers in the FBS in JK Dobbins. Dobbins has provided nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage and over 20 total touchdowns. Their offensive attack is well-rounded; they can hurt opponents through the air and on the ground, and it all starts with their Heisman contender quarterback Justin Fields.
Fields has been arguably the second-best quarterback in the country. He’s a master of moving the ball down the field and finding the end zone, all while taking care of the football. His 31:1 TD-INT ratio is off the charts, and while he has room to develop as a passer, he looks to be a top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Ohio State defense has been dominant this year, the biggest reason being two stars they have on the defensive line and in the secondary. Defensive end Chase Young is the best player in the country and has been far and away the best pass rusher in the country. His teammate Jeffrey Okudah has also been the best at his craft. Okudah has been the nations top cover cornerback this year and has cemented himself as the No. 1 cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the best unit in the country doesn’t come from just two players; the entire Ohio State defensive unit has been excellent.
Top Prospects: RB J.K. Dobbins, WR K.J. Hill, WR Binjimen Victor, iDL Robert Landers, EDGE Chase Young, LB Malik Harrison, CB Jeffrey Okudah, CB Shaun Wade, CB Damon Arnette, S Jordan Fuller.
Big-10 Championship Score Prediction
I expect this Big-10 Championship to be closer than people expect. Wisconsin excels at keeping games close, despite their last bout with OSU ending in a 31-point defeat. Jonathan Taylor and company will look to rebound from an embarrassing defeat in October. However, I still believe Ohio State will find the victory. Final Score: OSU, 34-24