On Saturday, Big Ten East Division champion Ohio State meets West champ Wisconsin in a rematch of their meeting on Oct. 26 in Columbus, which the Buckeyes won 38-7.
OSU and Wisconsin have met twice before in the league championship game, with the Buckeyes prevailing both times — by 59-0 in 2014 and 27-21 in 2017.
Where do those games stand in the relatively brief but exciting history of Big Ten football championship games? Here is how I rank them:
8. Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0, 2014
Buckeyes fans will recall this as the game that propelled them to a national championship. OSU leaped over TCU to get into the College Football Playoff, in part thanks to the huge margin of victory in this game. But everybody else will remember this as a snoozer. It’s still the only shutout in B1G title game history — in fact, it’s the only time the losing team was held to single digits in points.
7. Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 31, 2012
The top two teams in the Leaders Division, Ohio State and Penn State, were ineligible for the postseason. So the Badgers, with their 4-4 B1G record and 7-5 overall mark, met the Cornhuskers, whose invitation into the league gave the B1G the 12th team it needed to have a title game in the first place. What happened next was astonishing, as Wisconsin rushed for 539 yards on their way to the Rose Bowl.
6. Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24, 2018
The Wildcats earned their first West Division title, going 8-1 in B1G play after losing all three of their nonconference games. And Northwestern kept this game close for three quarters, getting within 24-21 on Clayton Thorson’s touchdown pass to Cameron Green in the third quarter. But the Buckeyes pulled away for their second straight B1G title as Dwayne Haskins passed for two fourth-quarter TDs.
5. Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21, 2017
This game was not quite as close as the score might indicate. The Buckeyes led 21-7 in the first half and outgained the Badgers 449-298 in the game. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for two scores and ran for a touchdown and J.K. Dobbins ran for 174 yards. The Buckeyes shut down Jonathan Taylor, who gained just 41 yards on 15 carries.
4. Michigan State 16, Iowa 13, 2015
This game had drama and high stakes but lacked points. The teams traded field goals for three quarters until Iowa struck for an 85-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard to Tevaun Smith early in the fourth quarter. That set up LJ Scott’s 1-yard TD run with less than a minute left, propelling Michigan State into the CFP semifinals. Exciting ending but not a thrilling game start to finish.
3. Michigan State 34, Ohio State 24, 2013
The Spartans scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to deny OSU, then ranked No. 2 in the BCS, a shot at appearing in the final national championship game of the BCS era. Braxton Miller ran for two touchdowns and rushed for another for the Buckeyes, but Michigan State outgained OSU 438-374 as the Spartans booked their trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.
2. Wisconsin 42, Michigan State 39, 2011
The inaugural edition of the B1G title game was a thriller. Leaders Division winner Wisconsin prevailed thanks to Montee Ball’s touchdown run with 3:45 left in the game. Michigan State led most of the second half but could had no answers in its attempt to stop Ball, who scored four touchdowns for the Badgers including three on the ground.
1. Penn State 38, Wisconsin 31, 2016
The best comeback in B1G title game history. The Badgers led 28-7 in the second quarter but the Nittany Lions regained their footing, tying the score at 28 on Saquon Barkley’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Wisconsin went back ahead with a field goal but Barkley scored again, this time on a pass from Trace McSorley, as Penn State took the lead for good.