ASA’s BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Wisconsin vs Ohio State (-16.5 / 56.5) – Saturday at 8 PM ET @ Indianapolis
Wisconsin clinched the Big 10 West last Saturday with a 38-17 win over Minnesota in Minneapolis. The Badgers picked up an easy cover (Wisconsin was -2.5) and the game went over the total (45). The Badgers led 10-7 at half and they were struggling to run the ball (only 66 yards rushing) with Minnesota selling out to stop Jonathan Taylor. Because of that, Wisconsin coaches made an offensive adjustment and took some shots downfield with QB Jack Coan completing 4 passes in the 2nd half for 161 yards (40+ yards per completion)! They scored TD’s on each of their 4 second half possessions to pull away for an easy win. In un-Wisconsin like fashion, they threw for 280 yards in the Minneapolis snowstorm while rushing for just 173 yards. QB Jack Coan continued his efficient play as he now ranks 3rd in the nation completing 72% of his passes. The defense was struggling a bit coming into this game having allowed nearly 900 yards on more than 7.0 YPP their previous 2 games vs Nebraska & Purdue. They righted the ship last Saturday holding a potent Minnesota offense to 372 total yards including just 76 yards on the ground. After the Gophs first drive of the game (2-plays for 51-yards and a TD) the UW defense limited them to only 4.9 YPP the rest of the way. This will be Wisconsin’s 6th appearance in the 9 year history of the Big 10 Championship.
Ohio State continues their onslaught on the sportsbooks easily covering last week @ Michigan. Their 56-27 win as a 9-point favorite marked the Buckeyes 9th cover in 12 games this season. When they cover, the cover BIG. All but one of their 9 ATS wins have come by at least 17 points with an average cover margin of 20.6 PPG in those 9 games. Last Saturday the offense continued to roll with almost 600 yards of total offense on a very good Michigan defense. OSU outgained the Wolverines by 182 yards which was actually their lowest YPG margin of the season which speaks to their dominance this season. On defense about the only thing we can knock them for was allowing big plays in the passing game. Michigan QB Shea Patterson threw for 305 yards and 13 of his 18 completions went for 10 yards or more. Nearly half of those completions (6) went for more than 20 yards. The Buckeyes are now allowing almost 14 yards per pass completion which ranks them 25th nationally which obviously is still very solid but if we do see a chink in their defensive armor, that might be it. They rank in the top 10 in most other key defensive categories. OSU did get a bit of a scare in the 2nd half when QB Justin Fields was rolled up on and went down with what looked like a leg injury. He returned a series later and showed no signs of slowing down. OSU now moves onto play in their 5th Big 10 Championship game in the last 9 seasons.
PREVIOUS MEETING – These two met in Columbus on October 26th with OSU entering the game as a 14.5 point favorite with a total of 48. The Buckeyes won the game 38-10 easily covering the spread with the total landing directly on the number. The game was close at half with the Buckeyes leading 10-0. Early in the 3rd quarter Wisconsin scored on a short field following a blocked punt to cut the lead to 10-7. OSU dominated from that point on outscoring the Badgers 28-0 the rest of the way. Wisconsin was only able to muster 191 total yards and Jonathan Taylor was held to only 52 yards on 20 carries. Ohio State put up 431 total yards. Justin Fields completed only 12 passes in the game but the Buckeyes didn’t need him to air it out as they ran the ball 50 times for 264 yards.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These two have met twice in the Big 10 Championship game with OSU winning and covering both. In 2014 Wisconsin entered as a 4-point favorite and the Badgers were blown out 59-0 by the Buckeyes. In 2017 they had a conference championship rematch with OSU winning 27-21 as a 3.5 point favorite. Over the first 6 years of the Big 10 Championship game, the underdog was 5-0-1 ATS. The last two years the favorite is 2-0 ATS. The Buckeyes are favored by 16.5 here which is the same number they were laying in this game last year vs Northwestern. OSU went on to win that game 45-24. All of the other Big 10 championship games have had single digit spreads. As far as this series goes, Ohio State has dominated as of late going 10-1 SU (4-7 ATS) the last 11 meetings with Wisconsin. From mid-October of 1990 through mid-November of 1997 the Badgers were 12-1 ATS as an underdog of 14 points or more. Since then they have been a 2 TD or higher dog just 5 times and they are 0-4-1 ATS in those games. The Buckeyes have been a favorite of more than 14 points in every game but one this year (@ Michigan they were -9). OSU is 8-3 ATS in those games. Ohio State has won every game but one by at least 24 points. The only outlier was their 11-point win over Penn State.