Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Date and Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Opening College Football Odds: Ohio State -5.5
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin TV Coverage: FOX
Ohio State is far from a lock to get into the CFP with a win, but it has to feel pretty good about its chances with all of the chaos that has gone on around it. Its resume will be up against the resume of 11-1 Alabama if it wins this game for that last playoff spot, and style points might end up mattering a ton.
Unfortunately, we aren't sure if J.T. Barrett is going to be around for this game or not. Barrett was hurt before the opening kickoff of the game against Michigan thanks to a cameraman, an injury that was exacerbated by the physicality the Wolverines brought to the table at the Big House. Still, the Buckeyes were able to finish off this game thanks to freshman Dwayne Haskins throwing the ball well in Barrett's place, and this might end up being the moment that Haskins has to really grow up in a hurry.
It's not the Badgers' fault that they play in the lousy half of the Big Ten. The West Division was a joke this year, though the win over Northwestern will officially end up being a Top 25 victory when this is all said and done with for Wisconsin.
The Badgers have played their best football at the end of the campaign, blowing out Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and Indiana in four covers against big point spreads.
This, though, is uncharted territory for Wisconsin. It's the first game of the year which the team is genuinely expected to lose, and it's going to have to beat the odds set by the best NCAA football sportsbooks if it wants to play big boy football on January 1.
It's easy to give Alex Hornibrook a really hard time for what he has accomplished in his career. He's the Alex Smith of college football, a man who is asked to simply not screw up.
Yet time and time again, Hornibrook makes crucial mistakes. He has 13 interceptions against 21 touchdowns, and every single drop back feels like a horrible experience for Badgers backers.
It would be much easier to give the ball to Jonathan Taylor, a freshman who had 258 carries, 1,806 yards and 13 touchdowns in the first 12 games of the season.
In last year's Big Ten Championship Game against Penn State, the Badgers went with Bart Houston under center. He went 16-for-21 for 174 yards. If Hornibrook can just replicate those numbers, this is a winnable game for sure.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Free Picks
Until we know whether Barrett is going to be under center or not, it's going to be really hard to make a prediction in this game. Either way, though, we think Wisconsin is being horribly underrated.
We're talking about a defense that ranks No. 1 in America in total yardage and rush defense and No. 2 in both pass defense and scoring defense. We don't care what type of schedule you've been up against; those are darn good numbers.
The Ohio State defense is certainly good, but it has had moments where it hasn't been able to slow down big time running games. Karan Higdon and Chris Evans both had better games against Ohio State than they did Wisconsin. The same could be said for Akrum Wadley.
This Wisconsin team isn't a mistake. It's a team that legitimately could have a gripe to being the No. 1 team in the country, and we think it's going to look the part and have its shot to prove it in the College Football Playoff after winning the Big Ten title.
College Football ATS Pick: Wisconsin +5.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 13