People sometimes ask me what is the most memorable Ohio State football game I’ve covered.
I’ve never really filled out that list. And I’ve seen a lot of games since I started following the Buckeyes around in 1992.
But No. 1 just might be Ohio State’s 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten championship game. And if it’s not at the top of the list it’s very close.
The payoff for winning that game and the way OSU won it was huge. Without a dominating performance the Buckeyes wouldn’t have gotten an invitation to the College Football Playoff and wouldn’t have won the 2014 national championship.
It’s an understatement to say a 59-0 score was not expected. And the hero of that game, third string quarterback Cardale Jones, was equally unexpected.
Ohio State weathered the loss of starting quarterback Braxton Miller to a preseason injury, then lost his replacement J.T. Barrett to a broken ankle in the second half of the Michigan game.
Earlier this year during a speech in Columbus, Urban Meyer remembered the moment he realized Jones would be his quarterback the rest of the season as he sent him into the Michigan game.
“I grabbed his shoulder pad and I said, ‘Cardale, you can do this. You do this.’ And inside I’m thinking, ‘You have no chance to do this,’ ” Meyer said.
But Jones did have a chance. And the rest is history.
Time will tell if this afternoon’s game between No. 1 OSU (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) and No. 13 Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) at Ohio Stadium has historic connotations.
It’s a game that doesn’t look quite as big as it did a week ago before Illinois stunned the Badgers 24-23.
It is possible Wisconsin might not have been quite as good as it looked in a 35-14 win over Michigan and might not be quite as vulnerable as it looked in losing to Illinois.
Both teams bring star power and statistics into today’s game. OSU’s J.K. Dobbins (947 yards rushing) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (957 yards) are the two best running backs in the Big Ten and two of the best in the country.
OSU’s Chase Young is tied for the most sacks in the country and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Orr is tied for sixth.
Wisconsin is No. 1 in the country in scoring defense and Ohio State is No. 2. Wisconsin is No. 1 nationally in fewest passing yards allowed and Ohio State is No. 2. Ohio State is No. 3 in scoring and Wisconsin is No. 12.
Lots of talent on both rosters. Lots of incentive for both teams. Ohio State has avoided a letdown so far and should do it again against the best team it has played.
The prediction: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21.