There were many in the college football world that expected the Ohio State Buckeyes to be watching the 2018 Big Ten Championship Game from home this weekend. But, thanks to a monstrous 62-39 victory over the Michigan Wolverines last Saturday, the No. 6 Buckeyes will take on the No. 21 Northwestern Wildcats in Indianapolis tonight at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
While the trip to the title game is the first for NU, if the Buckeyes are victorious, it will be their third conference crown in five years, and could lead to third trip to the College Football Playoffs as well.
The Wildcats are led by quarterback Clayton Thorson, who completes 60.3 percent of his passes for 222.9 yards per game. While his 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions won’t impress many, he leads a methodic offense that is designed to chip away at opposing defenses a little at a time. He is aided in these efforts by Isaiah Bowser, who assumed the role of the team’s leading rusher following the heartbreaking retirement of Jeremy Larkin following the third game of the season.
Despite being a freshman, Bowser has become a workhorse for the NU offense. He currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 17.89 rushing attempts per game, and ninth in yardage with 81.78 yards per game — just ahead of J.K. Dobbins (10th) and Mike Weber (11th).
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins — who was named the conference’s QB and Offensive Player of the Year earlier this week — is just 64 yards from claiming another B1G record. He is currently behind only Michigan’s Denard Robinson (4,272) on the league’s all-time total yards list.
When is the game and how can I watch?
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 1, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Online: FOX Sports GO
Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM
Where is “GameDay” this weekend?
For the seventh time in history, ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be broadcast at the site of the SEC Championship Game. Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, Mary Taylor et al. will be in International Plaza outside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
With the visit, Alabama retakes the lead over Ohio State in terms of the number of “GameDay” appearances with 44. OSU has still hosted the program the most times with 18.
On today’s broadcast, Corso will make his 325th headgear selection — he has a record of 210-114 (7-6 this season) with those picks. The Sunshine Scooter is 4-1 in his previous SEC Championship Game headgear picks; he is 20-10 when picking Alabama, and 0-4 when picking Georgia.
What’s the rest of the Big Ten up to today?
Nothing; literally nothing.
What else to watch for?
Since Ohio State plays in the Championship Saturday night cap, they will have a pretty good idea as to where they stand in the playoff picture by the time they take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Big 12 Championship kicks off at noon E.T. between the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 14 Texas Longhorns.
If OU wins, the Buckeyes would likely need an unceremonious decimation of the Wildcats in order to give the College Football Playoff selection committee reason to even consider putting them in; and even then it’s unlikely.
However, should the Longhorns win the Red River Rematch, and defeat their rivals for the second time this season, a solid victory might just be enough for the Buckeyes to punch their tickets to the playoff.
Now, that being said, the SEC Championship Game could really put a kink into the plans of both the Big Ten and the Big 12. At 4 p.m. ET, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will face the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs, and should UGA win, it is almost certain that both teams will find their ways into the final four, eliminating both the Sooners and the Buckeyes; but perhaps paving the way to an eight-team playoff in the near future.
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