The No. 8 University of Wisconsin football team (10-3, 7-3 Big Ten) lost 34–21 against No. 1 The Ohio State University Buckeyes (13-0, 10-0) in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis Saturday night.
In a game that almost nobody gave Wisconsin a chance to win, the Badgers looked like the better team throughout the first half, jumping out to a 14–0 lead behind impressive performances from quarterback Jack Coan and running back Jonathan Taylor.
On the first drive of the evening, Wisconsin moved the ball with ease. Coan opened the game with a deep pass to receiver Quintez Cephus, and the Badgers kept it rolling with a pair of runs by Taylor and Coan to get another first down. Taylor capped the drive with a 44-yard touchdown, giving Wisconsin some much-needed energy early on.
Wisconsin’s defense played off that energy on the ensuing possession, holding OSU on a fourth-down attempt to regain possession. The Badger defense returned to their early-season form for much of the first half, holding OSU to a turnover on downs, a punt and a fumble through the first 27 minutes of the game.
Coan stunned the world early in the second quarter, keeping the ball on a read-option for a 14-yard touchdown and a 14–0 Wisconsin lead.
With just over three minutes left in the half, the excitement ramped up quickly.
OSU finally found success offensively, driving down the field in just over two minutes on a drive that ended with a touchdown run by running back J.K. Dobbins to cut the Badger lead to 14–7.
With less than a minute remaining before halftime, it seemed like Head Coach Paul Chryst was satisfied with the first half result, allowing Taylor to carry the ball to run out the clock. However, Taylor broke free for a huge gain.
Three plays later, Coan ran for his second touchdown of the game from one yard out following a nice catch by Cephus. Heading into the break with a 21–7 lead, Wisconsin was rolling in one of their best halves of the season.
But the Buckeyes proved to be too much for Wisconsin.
The second half opened with a quick drive for OSU, as they found the endzone in less than two minutes thanks to a huge 50-yard pass by quarterback Justin Fields to get the Buckeyes into the red zone.
On the next Wisconsin possession, the Buckeye defense quickly stopped Wisconsin before punter Anthony Lotti fumbled on the punt, falling on it but allowing OSU to take over with great field position.
The Badgers held the Buckeyes to a field goal, but OSU proceeded to score touchdowns on their next two drives, scoring all 27 points in the half to win 34–21 for another Big Ten title.
Coan finished 17-for-33 for 232 yards, also picking up two rushing touchdowns. Taylor finished with 148 yards in another impressive performance, although nearly all of those yards came in the first half. Cephus added 122 yards on seven catches.
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In the end, the better team escaped with a victory. The win guarantees OSU a spot in the College Football Playoff when the rankings are released tomorrow afternoon.
The Badgers will cross their fingers, as they hope to stay ahead of Penn State in the rankings. If they do so, they will earn a spot in the Rose Bowl against the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, which will almost certainly be the Oregon Ducks.
But, if Wisconsin falls below Penn State in the rankings, they will be forced to settle for a weaker bowl game. Either way, the end result was a disappointment for Wisconsin following a strong first half as they end the regular season with a 10-3 record, including two losses to OSU.