Ohio State earned its third straight Big Ten championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 34-21 win over Wisconsin in Saturday's title game.
Wisconsin stunned the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd by jumping out to a 14-0 lead and holding a 14-point advantage going into the half. However, the Buckeyes turned the tables in the second half with 27 straight points to come back and eventually pull away for the win.
Jonathan Taylor carried Wisconsin with 148 rushing yards, but it wasn't enough to stay in front of Justin Fields and his three touchdown passes as the Buckeyes earned their second win of the year against the conference rival.
While experts will debate the final rankings before Sunday's announcement, Ohio State will undoubtedly be among the top four squads with a chance to bring home the school's first national title since 2014.
- Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: 19-of-31, 299 passing yards, 3 TD
- J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State: 33 carries, 172 rushing yards, 1 TD
- K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State: 7 catches, 83 receiving yards, 2 TD
- Jack Coan, QB, Wisconsin: 17-of-33, 232 passing yards, 2 rushing TD
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 20 carries, 148 rushing yards, 1 TD
- Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin: 7 catches, 122 receiving yards
Justin Fields Leads Second-Half Turnaround for Buckeyes
Ohio State hasn't had many close games this season, but the squad showed Saturday it can beat a good team without playing its best football.
Fields was contained as a runner (one yard on 12 carries), wasn't always sharp throwing the football, and the 14-point halftime deficit was the most adversity he's faced as a starter at the college level.
However, he delivered when it mattered most, throwing three second-half touchdowns:
While he got a lot of help from his teammates (especially on the Jeremy Ruckert catch), Fields continued to make plays to move the football and find the end zone against a tough defense.
He ended up with 172 passing yards in the second half to lead an incredible come-from-behind effort.
It was enough to raise his profile even more after an outstanding season.
Meanwhile, Ryan Day deserves tons of credit for his halftime adjustments that resulted in more offensive success while completely shutting down a Wisconsin offense that was unstoppable early on.
The first-year head coach has still never lost in his current role, and his ability to get his players to consistently produce at an elite level cannot be understated.
Not only did this game show the world Ohio State remains a national title contender, but it will also give everyone on the roster the confidence to win against all odds.
Wisconsin Stumbles After Dominating First Half
The first half went about as well as possible for Wisconsin, which jumped out to a 21-7 lead at intermission.
After totaling just 52 rushing yards last game against Ohio State, Taylor broke out for 135 yards in the first 30 minutes with the types of plays he makes against every other team.
Quarterback Jack Coan was also moving the chains with his arm and legs to keep the team in front:
It was truly a dominant effort to go up by 14 points against the No. 1 team in the country:
On the flip side, the second half went about as poorly as possible for the Badgers.
The offense couldn't get first downs, the defense couldn't get stops, and special teams imploded:
Even when the score was close, Wisconsin lost all momentum within the first few minutes of the half and never regained it. It led to a disappointing finish for one of the most talent teams in the country.
Ohio State will now await the College Football Playoff bracket as its path toward another potential national championship is revealed. Wisconsin still has a chance to go to a prestigious bowl and end the season—and possibly Taylor's career—on a high note.