Note: This podcast was recorded shortly before news of Michigan head coach Brady Hoke being fired was made official.
This season was supposed to be playoff or bust for Ohio State. That is how I saw it at least. But before the season could kick off Ohio State lost its Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, Braxton Miller. The two-time Silver Football award winner as the Big Ten’s MVP the past two seasons needed to undergo shoulder surgery that should have been done much sooner. Without Miller, the Buckeyes turned to J.T. Barrett, a young and inexperienced player, but certainly not one lacking in talent. Despite an early bump on a terrible weekend for the Big Ten, Barrett blossomed before our eyes and led Ohio State back into the playoff hunt when nobody thought it would be possible. But for the second time this fall, the Buckeyes lost a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback at the worst possible time. Without Barrett, who broke his right ankle against Michigan in the regular season finale, the Buckeyes now turn to Cardale Jones, a player most known for his thoughts about football vs. education, to finish the mission of getting to the playoff as Big Ten champions.
As if throwing another young and mostly inexperienced quarterback into the fray wasn’t bad enough, Ohio State happens to be playing one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, with one of the top defensive units and one powerful running game. Oh, and this team just so happens to have a knack for playing in the Big Ten Championship Game. Say hello to the Wisconsin Badgers.
Ohio State may have lost their Heisman Trophy darkhorse, but the Badgers will arrive in Indianapolis with one of the two favorites. Running back Melvin Gordon is on pace to rewrite the record book and he leads a ground attack that should be capable of wearing down Ohio State. A big game by Gordon could be enough to move past Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota just before Heisman Trophy ballots are due, depending on what Mariota does Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game against Arizona. But put aside the Heisman talk, because Wisconsin is in position to establish dominance in the new era of the Big Ten. The Big Ten championship game that was initially thought to be dominated by Ohio State and Michigan for years when it was first introduced is now seeing Wisconsin looking to win its third championship game in four seasons.