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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers Point Spread - Pick

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (12-0 SU, 8-4 ATS)
Big Ten Conference Championship Game
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: Fox

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: OSU -6.5/WIS +6.5
Over/Under Total: 53

The Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Ohio State moved to 10-2 on the season on Saturday with a 31-20 road win over rival Michigan. It was their third straight win since their costly upset-loss to Iowa. They look to enhance their profile even more this week against Wisconsin, who remained unbeaten on Saturday with a 31-0 win over Minnesota. But they still need a high-quality win over a team like Ohio State to solidify their CFP standing, despite being the only remaining unbeaten team in the College Football Playoff hunt.

The Buckeyes did what they had to on Saturday against a Michigan team that meant business. Down 14-0 early, Ohio State was able to compose themselves, make adjustments on defense, and pull away with the win. Even with quarterback TJ Barrett (probable) leaving the game, QB Dwayne Haskins was able to run the offense with a strong run game in tow. On defense, a shaky start raised eyebrows, but after the Wolverines made it 14-0, the Buckeyes allowed 6 points for the rest of the game, setting up the offense to start piling on scores against a good Michigan "D." A loss to Oklahoma, and less-forgivably, a 31-point loss to Iowa probably has them on the outside as far as a realistic CFP spot, but a lot is still at stake.

We'll see how Barrett looks this week, as being compromised could hurt more this week. You don't want an inexperienced guy taking on this Badgers' defense. The playmaking was strong on Saturday against Michigan. The Buckeyes' offensive line was dominant and when on, they can really take over games and do so against really good teams. The run-game was superb on Saturday; especially the explosive gallops from redshirt freshman back JK Dobbins. Running back Mike Weber had a TD on the game, as well, with Barrett able to add some useful runs along the way. Through the air on Saturday, the Buckeyes were mostly quiet, with Marcus Baugh catching their only aerial TD. But they have a solid and deep cast of ball-catchers, led by Parris Campbell, KJ Hill, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, and others. Their balance and explosive-potential has them as one of the top-scoring offenses in the country at 45 points a game.

The Ohio State defense started the game off in dodgy fashion against the Wolverines. Michigan was operating smoothly and it looked like a long day was shaping up for Ohio State. In allowing an average of under 20 points a game this season, the defense has been a well-balanced one. Nick Bosa gets after quarterbacks, DB Damon Webb helps get turnovers, and guys like Chris Worley, Jerome Baker, and Tuf Borland contribute to make them a defense that usually delivers. Against Iowa, Penn State, and Oklahoma, however, they were exploitable, and haven't been as bankable at the higher levels. Dominant against mediocre offenses, they have looked different against the more-powerful offenses they have faced.

Wisconsin took care of business on Saturday, covering the spread in a 31-0 road-shutout over Minnesota. They beat Michigan the previous week, their best win of the season. After a non-demanding schedule in non-conference play, in addition to pulling the weakest teams in the Big Ten, Wisconsin still needs to put together a strong case and it's hard to imagine them being shut out of the CFP if they win this game. Granted, when all the dust settles, there will be a lot of teams with solid cases, but an unbeaten record bolstered by a win over the Buckeyes should be enough.

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Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook has won his first 17 starts. We can nit-pick his stats all we want, but the bottom-line speaks loudest. The Badgers' offense is indeed heavy on the run, but Hornibrook is dangerous enough to make things happen aerially. He had three TD passes on Saturday on 15-for-19 passing, a typically-efficient day for the poised sophomore. He had no picks on the day after throwing 12 over his last eight games, the one kink on an otherwise sterling profile. Jonathan Taylor is the big-hitter on the ground and he added 149 yards and a TD against Minnesota. He now has 1806 yards. Talented backs like Chris James, Bradrick Shaw (questionable), and Garrett Groshek have also added production on the ground. Their aerial attack isn't the best, but big tight end Troy Fumagalli is a difference-maker and different ball-catchers like Kendric Pryor, AJ Taylor, and Danny Davis can also step up on a given week.

While the offense is a big part of Wisconsin's success, for the Badgers to win this game and make big things happen beyond this, they'll need their defense to continue putting forth big performances. They lead the entire nation with a point-allowance of just 12 points a game. They are ranked as the top-defense against the run and are second nationally against the pass. They have given up less yardage than any team in the nation. Granted, the bulk of those games were against teams that aren't all that good. The only reliable measuring stick anywhere near this realm was the ten points they allowed to the Wolverines. Still, one shouldn't be too shocked if this defense's excellence translates in a spot like this. They have a pretty complete group. LB Ryan Connelly has been getting after quarterbacks the last few games and had two sacks on Saturday. Linebacker TJ Edwards had a big game against the Golden Gophers and has four picks on the campaign, as does DB Joe Ferguson. Natrell Jamerson has also been big in the secondary this season. Alec James, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Garret Dooley have applied a nice pass-rush this year.

The stakes are high for both teams. The Buckeyes could even be thinking if things shake out perfectly, a win this week could get them back in the CFP discussion. Even if that's not in the cards, a Big Ten title still means an awful lot. For Wisconsin, this is a scenario where they control their own destiny and can win their way into the CFP. Wisconsin has more to prove and more to play for on certain levels, but both teams should be in peak mental form for this matchup. I picture a competitive game where having 6.5 points might come in handy.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Wisconsin Badgers plus 6.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Ohio State vs. Wisconsin game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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