December 8, 2019 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields looked frazzled and frustrated in the first half Saturday night. So did the rest of the Buckeyes. Then the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year started trusting himself — and his teammates. Fields threw three touchdown passes and the Buckeyes defense pitched a second-half shutout and beat No. 10 Wisconsin 34-21 to help No. 2 Ohio State claim an unprecedented third straight outright Big Ten championship and likely their first playoff trip in three years.
The only real question is where the undefeated Buckeyes will be seeded.
“I think we deserve to be No. 1,” first-year coach Ryan Day said on the podium, moments after hoisting the championship trophy.
The Buckeyes (13-0) certainly make a compelling case.
They were ranked No. 1 by the College Football Playoff selection committee last week and now enter the postseason on a 19-game winning streak. They’re the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision with five wins over five programs ranked in the CFP’s top 25 last week, and they’ve beaten three consecutive top-10 teams — all by double digits — and beat the Badgers for the second time this season.
But an unsteady first half, in which the Buckeyes faced their biggest deficit of the season, may have opened the door for two other two unbeaten, LSU and defending national champion Clemson, to try and supplant the Buckeyes as the No. 1 seed.
Ohio State believes scoring the final 27 points should be good enough.
“We took their best shot but we still had a half,” running back J.K. Dobbins said. “It would be cool to be No. 1. We’re a complete team, I think.”
The Badgers (10-3, No. 8 CFP) can’t quibble with that argument after losing their seventh straight in the series. After winning the first two Big Ten title games, the Badgers have now lost in each of their last four championship appearances, including three times to Buckeyes.
But this one didn’t follow the usual script.
The Badgers scored the first 14 points, putting Ohio State in its deepest deficit all season, and still led 21-7 at the half.
Ohio State changed everything with a quick-hitting flurry in the third quarter.
Jeremy Ruckert started the comeback with a spectacular one-handed catch in the back of the end zone on the fifth play. cutting the deficit to 21-14.
Four plays later, Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti dropped the ball and was tackled at the Badgers 16. Ohio State converted that miscue into a 27-yard field goal to make it 21-17.