Badgers meet Buckeyes in Big Ten Championship (Keys to the Game)
START FAST IN INDY - There's no debating the stakes and pressure on the shoulders of the Badgers heading into their 2014 rematch with Ohio State. With a win, Wisconsin would not only win their first conference title since 2012, but also earn a spot in their first college football playoff (currently no.4). The first few possessions of this content could ultimately decide it and against a powerful Buckeyes team, playing from ahead could be pivotal.
KEEP OHIO STATE ONE-DIMENSIONAL - Wisconsin boasts the nation's No. 1 defense and it will be tested against an Ohio State offense which is the only program to rush and pass for 250 yards per game. There are question marks as to whether Big Ten quarterback of the year J.T. Barrett or Dwayne Haskins will get the nod under center, maybe both. However, each can lead a dynamic offense which must be limited to one style of attack. Wisconsin has only surrendered 10 points in the past three games and their ability to key this game low scoring will be essential to a victory.
VALUE THE FOOTBALL - Wisconsin's offense is starting to find its stride down the stretch and will count on a stout offensive line along with quarterback Alex Hornibrook and Big Ten running back of the year Jonathan Taylor to move this football up and down the field. What this team can't afford to do is turn it over. Over the course of the season, the latter have struggled at time with interception and fumble problems. Playing clean football and avoiding the momentum-killing turnovers will be the offense's No. 1 priority.
EMBRACE THE MOMENT - As Paul Chryst said yesterday, every season is different and each has its own specific journey. This team has earned the right to contend for a conference title and more, which is to say they should embrace the excitement of this weekend. However, if the Badgers can learn anything from last season, it's that to a win a game of this magnitude, part of the moment is making sure to be in it for the entire 60 minutes. After jumping ahead 28-7, Wisconsin ran out of gas in the second half last year, eventually falling to Penn State 38-31. To beat a team as talented as the Buckeyes, this squad has to stay focused on the task at hand and make sure not to get caught up in what's at stake beyond it.