I've been teasing The Game for several weeks here on Big Ten Takeaways. The good news is, we've made it unscathed! A one-loss Ohio State team will host a one-loss Michigan team with the chance to play in the College Football Playoff.
Forgive the formalities of passing over the Northwestern Wildcats, who we will talk about in just a moment, in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State-Michigan is a rivalry with implications that you'd typically find down south, where they take their college football *extra* seriously. With so much on the line this year, especially compared to Michigan last season, this game is the best case scenario for the Big Ten.
It nearly wasn't.
Urban Nearly Loses His Head
Ohio State needed a gracious defensive holding penalty to help force overtime before needing Maryland Terrapins QB Tyrrell Pigrome to throw the worst pass in the history of all forward passes to escape with a 52-51 win in College Park.
I, for one, expected Urban Meyer's head to explode on three separate occasions. Meyer was often caught by the broadcast cameras staring at the turf, cradling his cranium. Bad plays by his team seemed to incite whatever Meyer may have been feeling but at the end of the game all anyone seemed to be focused on was Meyer's health.
In all seriousness, I hope Meyer is well. I'm sure either way, Coach will downplay the incident but this is now a central story entering The Game.
The focus belongs on another headache, however: Ohio State's defense. The Buckeyes are allowing 29.0 points per game since 9/29 against Penn State. That number is going to be a huge bruise on the Buckeyes' CFP resume, assuming they beat the Wolverines.
Road Warriors Strike Again
Alright, Northwestern, it is time to talk about you: The Big Ten West Champions! It feels weird, doesn't it? Especially when you consider the team is 2-4 at home this season.
(Spoiler alert: Northwestern isn't exactly what I would call "talented".)
This team is undefeated on the road, however. A 24-14 victory over Minnesota moved the team to 5-0 on the season away from home turf and thank goodness that they did, otherwise the Big Ten Championship game in two weeks would have zero sex appeal at all.
How do the Wildcats do it? Defense. And a soft schedule. But credit where credit is due: this Wildcats squad lost by 3 to Michigan and by 10 to Notre Dame.
Return Of The Badgers
Speaking of the Big Ten West, Wisconsin showed up last night against Purdue. It was almost as if they remembered how much bigger and badder they were up front than everyone else. The glory goes to sophomore RB Jonathan Taylor, who ran for 321 yards in the team's 47-44 overtime win.
But any good back will tell you the boys up front are the engine to the running game, and this performance was no exception. Our very own Ben Solak was in attendance at this game and he raved about his first-hand viewing of Badger center Tyler Biadasz and his role to play in the rushing attack.
Ben went as far in The Draft Network's Slack channel last night to assert that Taylor ought to hook Biadasz up with some of the guaranteed money that is going to come in 2020, because the Badgers center made Taylor some money with his performance.
Entering Week 13 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Taylor is 131 rushing yards short of 2,000 on the season. Taylor finished 2017 with 1,977, so you can bet your bottom dollar Taylor is going to show out to grab that milestone. Expect Biadasz, a redshirt sophomore, to continue to be a key part of that effort.
You Got Hocken-Son'd
Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson killed a guy yesterday. No, really. Hockenson wiped some poor Illinois defender off the ball and essentially put him in a grave in the end zone. Don't take my word for it.
Oh, we hardly knew ye. Hockenson is a monster in both phases of the game and he, like previously mentioned Badger center Tyler Biadasz, is a redshirt sophomore. Both will have big time decisions to make after next week when the regular season closes regarding their football playing careers.
If you asked my opinion, I'd assess both as high draft selections who would be wise to consider leaving school. That is of course if their aspiration is to play professional football. I'd assume it is, but you know what happens when you assume...