Rapid Reaction: Ohio State uses huge second half to claim third-straight B1G title
Final score: #1 Ohio State 34 #8 Wisconsin 21
Brief recap: Wisconsin started off on a promising note, scoring the first two touchdowns of the game to build a 14-0 lead. A 44-yard run from Jonathan Taylor followed by a 14-yard run by Jack Coan gave the Badgers an early advantage. It looked like Paul Chryst and company had learned from their mistakes in the regular season matchup. Through the first half, the Badgers had the Buckeyes on the ropes, owning a 21-7 lead after two quarters. But Ohio State woke up in the second half. A miraculous touchdown pass from Justin Fields to Jeremy Ruckert got the Buckeyes within a touchdown and a bevy of Wisconsin’s special teams mistakes (a botched punt and a missed field goal), really left the door open for Ryan Day’s team. K.J. Hill had a big second half as well, and scored the go-ahead touchdown to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the night at 24-21. Fields and Hill connected one more time to take a 31-21 lead in the fourth quarter. The Ohio State defense did its job in the second half, holding the Badgers scoreless in the final 30 minutes.
Key moment: After getting dominated in the first half, Ohio State marched right down the field on the first possession of the third quarter and scored on a Fields pass to Ruckert to cut the lead to 21-14. That eight-play, 75-yard drive really ignited the Buckeyes and fueled a huge second-half comeback.
Key stat: Wisconsin needed a great game from Coan in order to beat Ohio State, and it just didn’t happen. The passing game was solid through one half, but the end result was just 17-of-34 for 232 yards. The Badgers needed to be able to stretch the field better.
Key player: J.K. Dobbins was a workhorse in the game, toting the ball 31 times for 168 yards and a touchdown. His ability to create some big runs allowed Ohio State to open the passing game against Wisconsin’s defense, especially in the second half. He was eventually able to wear down the Badgers’ front line.
What it means for Wisconsin: Some had written off the Badgers coming into 2019 after a 7-5 mark in regular season action a year ago. But the Badgers proved this year that they’re still a force in the B1G West. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, it still hasn’t been able to overcome the Ohio State hurdle in the B1G Championship Game. This was a much better fight than the one Chryst’s bunch put up in Columbus, but it still wasn’t enough to leave Indianapolis with a conference title.
What it means for Ohio State: The Buckeyes have accomplished a B1G first, and are now the first team since the conference split into divisions to win the title game in three straight years. That’s no small feat. And this time, it caps an undefeated season and locks up Ohio State’s bid in the College Football Playoff — which its missed the last two seasons. Ryan Day has proven his team is still the one to beat in the B1G. Now, it’s time to do it on the national stage, as well.