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Commentary: Wisconsin Badgers’ loss is Ohio State Buckeyes’ gain as Big Ten matchup looms

When Michigan State football wide receiver Keith Nichol hauled in quarterback Kirk Cousins’ Hail Mary pass in East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday night, the Wisconsin Badgers’ Bowl Championship Series title hopes may have come to an end.

Back in Columbus though, Ohio State football’s hopes of appearing in the inaugural Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis may have been revived.

While it seems completely improbable, the truth is that the road to Big Ten title game looks like it once again leads through Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes currently stand at 1-2 in Big Ten play, which is merely good for fifth place out of six teams in the Leaders Division. Yet dates with three of the teams they trail — Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State — still remain on OSU’s schedule. The other team ahead of them is Illinois, whom the Buckeyes upset on Oct. 15 and who now has two conference losses as well.

The Badgers and Boilermakers each have one loss in conference play, meaning that if the Buckeyes can defeat both of them, they will each have two losses along with the Buckeyes, with OSU holding the tiebreaker.

The wildcard is Penn State, who is undefeated in conference play, but is about to begin a brutal stretch after what was arguably a light start to its conference schedule.

The Nittany Lions will host Illinois and Nebraska in the upcoming weeks, and then travel to the ‘Shoe on Nov. 19 and then to Camp Randall Stadium to play the Badgers on Nov. 26.

Wisconsin hasn’t lost at Camp Randall since Oct. 17, 2009, and currently boasts a 14-game winning streak on its home field.

If the Nittany Lions can survive that stretch and win 3-of-4 or even all of those games, they will be very deserving of a trip to Indianapolis in the first week of December for the conference championship game.

For Penn State, a team that has been rotating quarterbacks all season, and lost to the only ranked team it faced — a 27-11 loss to Alabama on Sept. 10 — the Nits have their work cut out for them.

After all of the turmoil that’s arisen this season for the Buckeyes, from the array of suspensions, to the quarterback controversy, to the blown lead at Nebraska, a little help from their other Big Ten teams and a clutch performance or two, OSU could have a chance to go to Indianapolis and compete for the Big Ten Title.

Wisconsin senior quarterback Russell Wilson, junior running back Montee Ball and the rest of an angry Badgers team will have something to say about that, but with more than 100,000 fans behind them in the ‘Shoe next weekend, the Buckeyes will have an opportunity to shock the college football world.

Kickoff for OSU’s Saturday game against Wisconsin is set for 8 p.m.

 

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