No. 1 Ohio State storms back to beat No. 8 Wisconsin in Big Ten title game

Nick Bromberg
Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill (14) celebrates after making a touchdown catch during the second half of the team's Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill celebrates after scoring one of his two TDs against Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Ohio State is heading to the College Football Playoff after a first-half scare from Wisconsin.

The Badgers went up 14-0 and led 21-7 at the half before No. 1 Ohio State scored 24 straight second-half points to beat No. 8 Wisconsin 34-21 in the Big Ten championship game.

The win cements Ohio State’s status as a playoff team. But there could be some debate about the Buckeyes’ seed. No. 2 LSU beat No. 4 Georgia 37-10 in the SEC title game. Could the committee decide that Ohio State’s first-half struggles and LSU’s ease of victory over a higher-ranked opponent are enough to flip the teams?

It’s an important decision with No. 3 Clemson looming as the opponent for whichever team doesn’t end up at No. 1. The defending national champions absolutely throttled Virginia in the ACC championship game. The team that gets to be No. 1 likely plays Oklahoma in the semifinal.

And Ohio State still has a shot to be the No. 1 seed. Had the Buckeyes not had to scratch their way back into the game in the second half and eke out a last-second win, the Tigers from Louisiana would seemingly have the best case for No. 1 on Sunday. But Ohio State’s domination of the final 30 minutes could be enough to keep the top spot ahead of an LSU team that looked really, really good against a Bulldogs team that would have been in the playoff with a win.

Ruckert catch sparks comeback

Ohio State got the ball first to start the second half. And the opening drive went spectacularly. The five-play TD drive took less than two minutes and was capped off by this awesome catch by tight end Jeremy Ruckert to cut Wisconsin’s lead to seven:

Wisconsin’s next possession was a disaster. The Badgers didn’t get a first down and then this happened on the punt attempt:

While Ohio State only got a field goal to cut Wisconsin’s lead to four after the dropped punt snap, it was obvious that Wisconsin was reeling. And about eight minutes after the field goal, K.J. Hill caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields that gave Ohio State a lead it’d never give up.

Jack Coan scored 2 rushing TDs

Wisconsin QB Jack Coan’s mobility was the unexpected star of the first half. Coan picked up a couple key first downs for the Badgers and also scored two rushing touchdowns.

But that success didn’t carry over to the second half. Or to Coan’s passing statistics either. He completed 17-of-33 passes for 232 yards and no touchdowns.

J.K. Dobbins sealed the game

With QB Justin Fields limited by an MCL sprain he suffered against Penn State, the rushing load against the Badgers fell to RB J.K. Dobbins. He got over 30 carries as Ohio State controlled the clock in the fourth quarter with a two-possession lead.

Dobbins finished the game with 33 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown. He was the only Ohio State running back to get a carry.

Wisconsin’s loss opens up the Rose Bowl

Wisconsin was just two spots ahead of No. 10 Penn State in Tuesday’s rankings. The Nittany Lions will likely jump the Badgers with a third Wisconsin loss and head to the Rose Bowl to play Oregon. That means Wisconsin will probably end up in the Citrus Bowl, unless it sneaks into the Cotton Bowl ahead of Utah or Auburn.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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