Big Ten Championship Game 2018: The Ohio State Buckeyes are looking to defend their title in the Big Ten Championship this Saturday against the Northwestern Wildcats. Since the Big Ten Championship game came into existence in 2011, Ohio State has played in it three times—beating Wisconsin twice and losing to Michigan State once. On the other hand, this will be Northwestern’s first appearance in the Conference Championship.
The Buckeyes, the champions of the East Division after beating Wisconsin 27-21 in 2017, will be the designated home team for the eighth annual Big Ten Championship, while the Wildcats will be the away team as the West Division champion.The winner of the game will take home the Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy and will get a chance to play in one of the six bowls that comprise the College Football Playoffs.
Here’s a look at how to watch the game and a preview of the matchup, including a prediction of the winner.
Big Ten Championship Info
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Ohio State is no stranger to the spotlight. This is the Buckeyes’ fourth Big Ten Championship game appearance in eight years, and they have a 2-1 record so far.
The team has had a number of impressive wins this season. Dwayne Haskins has led the Buckeyes to several wins over ranked opponents, including two early wins over then-No. 15 TCU and then-No. 9 Penn State.
However, Ohio State then suffered a surprising 49-20 loss to Purdue, who has only won six games on the season.
Games against Nebraska and Maryland—both ordinary teams—were also kept too close for comfort. Since then, the Buckeyes have notched wins against then-No. 18 Michigan State and a dominating 62-39 upset over then-No. 4 Michigan.Haskins has shown what he’s capable of with 4,003 passing yards and 41 touchdowns. He has thrown seven interceptions, which have come in closer games like those against Maryland, Nebraska and Penn State.
The sophomore quarterback has been most successful targeting receiver Parris Campbell, who has 927 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season, including a 78-yard touchdown against Michigan.However, Ohio State has struggled to consistently keep opponents from scoring, allowing Maryland 51 points, Nebraska 31 and Michigan 39, among others.
The Big Ten announced defensive players who made the coaches and media team this week, and only three Ohio State players made the first and second team.
Additionally, the Buckeyes have a defensive efficiency percentage of 61.6, the fourth lowest defensive percentage in the College Football Playoff’s Top 25 rankings. The team’s offensive efficiency percentage comes in at 80.2.
Northwestern, on the other hand, clocks in at a 71.7 defensive efficiency percentage, keeping its games low-scoring and close for the most part. The then-unranked Wildcats held then-No. 21 Iowa to 10 points, then-No. 20 Wisconsin to 17, and then-No. 20 Michigan State to 19 in impressive wins after a series of three losses in the first four games of the season.
After falling to Duke, Akron and Michigan to enter its fifth game 1-3, Northwestern turned its season around to make itself a competitor. Even in the loss to then-No. 14 Michigan, the Wildcats were able to hold the usually explosive Wolverine offense to only 20 points.
The Wildcats finally broke the Top 25 after their upset over Iowa, coming into the Minnesota game in mid-November ranked 22nd, and they will face Ohio State at No. 21.
While defensively the Wildcats top the Buckeyes, they are not up to par with OSU offensively. Ohio State is led by Haskins—who is joined by star running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber—while Northwestern’s quarterback hasn’t had as much luck.