Ohio State looks to secure College Football Playoff berth in Big Ten championship game

LEFT: Evan Hull #26 of the Northwestern Wildcats breaks away from Jartavius Martin #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini on a 50 yard run in the 4th quarter at Ryan Field on December 12, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Illinois 28-10.

There’s a chance that Ohio State is college football’s team of destiny. After all, every time that the Buckeyes chances at the National Championship for the 2020 COVID-19 impacted season have appeared in serious peril, circumstances have changed.

At first, the Big Ten was going to play a spring schedule – until they changed their minds with the rapid testing protocols that came in.

Then, three cancellations left the Buckeyes below the six-game requirement to qualify for the Big Ten championship game. That was until the Big Ten athletic directors decided to change those rules and allow the Buckeyes to move ahead.

Now, it would be stunning if the No. 4 ranked Buckeyes don’t get to one of the semifinal games of the College Football Playoff. However, a big hurdle stands in the way as West division champion Northwestern gets ready to face Ohio State on Saturday (12 noon, FOX) in the Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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The sports betting information

On FoxBet.com Sportsbook, Ohio State is a 20 ½ point favorite and a -1100 favorite on the money line. (A $1,100 wager is required to win $100.) Northwestern is listed as +700 on the money line. The over/under total is 57 points.

For the season, Ohio State is 3-2 against the spread. Northwestern is an impressive 5-1-1 against the number.

There are plenty of CustomBets, PropBets and other wagers available at FOXBet.com to suit any gambling needs.

The history

This is the 10th Big Ten championship game and Ohio State is making its sixth appearance since the format began in 2011. The Buckeyes are looking for their fourth straight title and have a 4-1 record in the Big Ten title game. One of those wins was a 45-24 win over Northwestern in 2018- the Wildcats only appearance in the championship game.

In the overall series history, Ohio State has dominated with a 63-14 record with one time. The Buckeyes have won eight straight games dating back to 2005 and 32 of the past 33 games. Northwestern’s only win in the series was a 33-27 win in Evanston back in 2004.

The storylines to watch

One area where Ohio State has questions is a simple one: rust. The Buckeyes have played just twice since Nov. 7, seeing three games (at Maryland, at Illinois and vs. Michigan) canceled because of COVID-19 issues.  Still, the Buckeyes are a prohibitive favorite because they have one of the best quarterbacks in college football with Justin Fields and a top notch power running back in Master Teague. One area they’ve had issues has been in the defensive backfield, which allowed big performances to strong armed quarterbacks.

Northwestern has been a pleasant surprise and they were masters of winning the low scoring, close games. Northwestern won four straight games against Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin by 10 points or less. The only slip-up was a loss at Michigan State, but they followed that last week with an impressive 28-10 win over Illinois that saw running back Evan Hull rush for 149 yards and a score along with two Cam Porter touchdown runs. This may be Pat Fitzgerald’s best coaching job in Evanston.

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