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Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs Wisconsin ML Pick

Ohio State(10-2) @ Wisconsin(12-0)

  • Where: Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis, IN (Neutral Site)
  • When: December 2, 2017 8:00 pm EST
  • Spread: OSU (-6) vs Wisconsin (+6)
  • Moneyline: OSU (-220) vs Wisconsin (+180)
  • Over / Under: Over 51 (-110) vs Under 51 (-110)

A pair of teams meet to decide a championship. One team is unbeaten, with its powerful run-blocking and tough defense having set the stage for a total sweep of its 2017 conference schedule. No opponent has come within a touchdown of beating them. They whipped Michigan by 14 points and Iowa by 28, and did America a favor by stomping Lane Kiffin’s souped-up FAU squad.

The other team has lost twice, needing a miraculous comeback against Penn State to avoid going 9-3. They lost to Iowa by a demoralizing 31 points, and were given the tag-line “good luck figuring these guys out” by Kirk Herbstreit with 8 weeks gone in the season.

Bet you already know which team is the touchdown-favorite! Oh, wait.

10-2 Ohio State has been installed as a 6-point, (-220) money line favorite for Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. That’s despite Wisconsin giving up about 230 yards per game on defense in ’17, and failing to score 30+ points in only 3 out of 12 outings.

Are odds-makers crazy, or is there a trend here we’re missing? Let’s take a look.

Don’t Badger your bookie – he might change the odds

Click to wager on Wisconsin to upset Ohio State and enjoy Bovada’s generous sign-up bonus.

Wisconsin was nearly perfect in its warm-up game, displaying the strengths that give the school a strong shot to take down Ohio State.

The Badgers methodically killed Minnesota’s bid for bowl-eligibility with 287 rushing yards, a picture-perfect outing by QB Alex Hornibrook, and brutal defense that held P.J. Fleck’s team to less than 500 feet worth of drives. Junior LB Ryan Connelly sacked Demry Croft twice on less than 15 drop-backs.

Pundits believe that OSU’s defensive backfield matches up well against the Wisconsin WR corps. That may be true – role-player Quintez Cephus leads the Badgers with just over 500 receiving yards. But on the other hand, the Buckeye front-7 has been blown off the ball by teams in 2017…and it could happen again this Saturday night.

On a neutral field, priority #1 for Wisconsin is winning a stalemate at the LOS so that frosh wunderkind Jonathan Taylor can hit the hole and take off. Unless Taylor’s rate of production slows badly in the postseason, the 5’11” speedster will surpass 2000 yards rushing on the year, and could be the key to an upset in Indy.

Buckeyes deserve credit – just not this much

The odds are influenced by Ohio State having clobbered Wisconsin 59-0 when the teams recently met in a do-or-die scenario. The Buckeyes are also 8-2 SU in their past 10 against the Badgers.

Trends are in OSU’s favor, but Urban Meyer could care less. That’s because like all great coaches, he knows every year is a new deal and every roster is different.

Strength-of-schedule is firmly in Ohio State’s favor. The Buckeyes had to face Penn State, Michigan State and Oklahoma, while the toughest team on the Wisconsin schedule was probably Iowa or Michigan.

J.T. Barrett upgraded his national stardom in the Ohioans’ comeback against Penn State, and MSU was no match for Meyer’s spread-option offense as OSU steam-rolled for 300+ rushing yards (underrated TD-machine Mike Weber leading the charge) to beat the Spartans 48-3.

But at look at common opponents puts Wisconsin on part with or ahead of the Buckeyes. For instance, beating Iowa was no issue for the Badgers, but it certainly was for Ohio State.

Against Michigan, Hornibrook continued his nasty habit of throwing at least 1 interception in most games. But the Badgers still handled the Wolverines easily, giving up 1.6 yards per carry and stripping the ball from Brandon Peters…who was held to a paltry 9-of-18 on the day.

Ohio State vs Wisconsin – Winning pick on the money line

Wisconsin is evenly-matched with Barrett and the Buckeyes, and if it weren’t for their QB’s looseness with the ball on down-field throws, the Badgers ought to be at least a field-goal favorite.

Let the hype and the flash of Meyer’s superstars (and the specter of 59-0) drive the odds in the other direction. Meanwhile, quietly pick the Wisconsin Badgers, the winning bet at Lucas Oil.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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