Instant Analysis: Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24

    E-mail Pete Fiutak Follow me … @PeteFiutak Last season, Wisconsin’s coaching staff decided to go with the bizarre game plan of throwing and throwing some

    November 29, 2014

    E-mail Pete Fiutak 
    Follow me … @PeteFiutak 

    Last season, Wisconsin’s coaching staff decided to go with the bizarre game plan of throwing and throwing some more in the home finale against Penn State – the results weren’t very good. 

    Against Minnesota, the Badgers weren’t afraid of their mediocre passing game, throwing on first downs, stretching the field, doing just enough to balance out the offense to keep the offense moving. Melvin Gordon had a subtly amazing day – for him – running for 151 yards and a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass, and Corey Clement did his part with a Gordon-like 12.7-yard average, but it was Alex Erickson and his 160-yard receiving day that changed up the team’s dynamic with the Minnesota defense coming up with shoestring tackle after shoestring tackle on the Badger backs. 

    And now it’s on to the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State, but you’ll have to forgive the Buckeyes if they’re not lying awake scared of Joel Stave. Melvin Gordon’s banged up ankle has to be okay, and it’s going to take the running game to win the Big Ten championship. 

    233 rushing yards isn’t going to bring a trophy.

    E-mail Phil Harrison
    Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFB

    Congratulations Ohio State. You now have a real battle on your hands in Indy.

    With the Wisconsin win over an upstart Minnesota team, the stage has now been set for the Big Ten Championship Game, and it’s a good one. Ohio State needs Wisconsin, and the Badgers will be giddy at the prospect of being a mountain-size hurdle for the Buckeyes to clear.

    With Ohio State going through quarterbacks like red and green M&Ms this time of year, it needs to make a statement. J.T. Barrett is now lost for the season, and it’s time to get on the swimsuit and talk about world-peace in front of the bright lights. Wisconsin fits the bill.

    The matchup in Indy is an interesting one on a lot of levels. If Ohio State can find a way to beat the Badgers on a neutral field with yet another quarterback under center after losing both Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, it will show that it has enough parts surrounding the quarterback to get some raised eyebrows from the College Football Playoff Committee. You might be able to penalize a team because of a key injury, but not after showing a strong showing with the third-string quarterback as evidence.

    You’re up Cardale Jones.

    But it won’t be easy for another reason. For all of the improvement the Buckeyes have shown on defense this year, they have still struggled mightily against the run, giving up far too many big plays on the ground at times. Enter stage left, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

    The hard reality is that the Badgers lack any kind of consistent threat through the air. But do they need it? There may not be a more electric back in all of college football than Gordon. He’s had more big plays than any other running back in a power-five conference. That could spell trouble for the Buckeye defense.

    So set the stage. It’ll be the Badgers with a punishing running attack and the league’s best defense going against an Ohio State team soft against the run, but with playmakers galore on the offensive end. Unfortunately, one huge playmaker has now been lost twice in the same season.

    It sounds like a mismatch, but that’s why they play the games.

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