Three years ago, an 11-1 Ohio State team came into the Big Ten championship game needing an impressive result against Wisconsin to push its way into the inaugural College Football Playoff field.
The Buckeyes rolled 59-0, using that blowout not only to get a playoff spot but riding that momentum to stun Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl and thrash Oregon 42-20 in the national championship game.
The Buckeyes first need to beat Wisconsin, then hope the victory is impressive enough to catapult them past No. 5 Alabama and into the top four and hope both the ACC and SEC title game losers fall below them.
Buckeyes senior quarterback J.T. Barrett was hit by a camera on the sideline before last week’s game against Michigan and suffered a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery on Sunday.
Behind Barrett, the Buckeyes have the Big Ten’s best offense, averaging 529.8 yards per game.
With Barrett not 100 percent healthy, look for the Buckeyes to lean heavily on their run game, with freshman J.K. Dobbins and sophomore Mike Weber carrying the load. That won’t be easy against Wisconsin’s swift defense.
Though Ohio State won the rugged Big Ten East, the Buckeyes were an enigma for much of the season.