Well, throughout this season Wisconsin — as the favorite — was largely picked to win. Most games, no one went against the Badgers (there were exceptions, of course, such as against Iowa and Michigan, but still UW was the prohibitive choice).
Things are a little different this time around. However, they aren’t as one-sided as you might think.
Basically, split the predictors into three piles: Analysts from Wisconsin (from what I’ve seen, all of whom pick the Badgers), analysts from Ohio (from what I’ve seen all but one is picking the Buckeyes) and everyone else.
And that last group, well, it’s kind of split down the middle. Really, what more could you ask for from a game? Should be a fun one.
(I haven’t forgotten fans. The Wisconsin base seems fairly confident, although there’s always a few on shaky ground, and even some thinking Ohio State will win.)
Here are this week’s picks from around the web and Twitter:
All four FOX Sports analysts — Robert Smith, Dave Wannstedt, Matt Leinart and Joel Klatt — all have Wisconsin in the college football playoff; hence they all think Wisconsin will beat Ohio State.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 30, Ohio State 26. “Bucky has to frustrate the Buckeyes. Ohio State will commit penalties, it’ll make mistakes, and it’ll be off from time to time, but it usually makes up for it with a home run soon after. But Wisconsin tends to pounce as soon as anyone messes up. The Buckeye offense will have its moments, but slow and steady will win the race. Wisconsin will hold the ball for what seems like an eternity, the defense will come up with the stop here and there to take any momentum back, and the Badgers will slug their way to a 13-0 record and a trip to the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff.”
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 17.
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Wisconsin 26, Ohio State 20. “After getting a feel for what the opposition is going to do, this looks like a game in which Wisconsin can dictate tempo. Chewing up clock and putting points on the board will be the key to success for the Badgers and their quest to go 13-0.”
Daniel Gallen of pennlive.com picks Wisconsin. “This is a tough game to pick. Ohio State might have the talent edge on paper, but Wisconsin’s performance this season has been much less erratic. In order the Badgers to win, they’ll have to get Taylor going early and quarterback Alex Hornibrook will have to avoid any mistakes. Can Wisconsin do that? I think so. It’ll be close, but the Badgers will win and make the College Football Playoff.”
Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24. “Has an unbeaten team from a big-boy league ever reached this point in a season with a quarterback as shaky as Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook? It’s tempting to view this as Hornibrook vs. longtime Buckeyes starter J.T. Barrett and pick a winner based on that alone. Yet that would be too disregardful of the Badgers’ drop-dead-great defense, led by a linebacking crew that never stops coming. The battle of running backs will be sublime: UW’s Jonathan Taylor is one of the best freshmen we’ve seen in ages, but OSU’s J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are big-time trouble.”
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 17. “Over the last three weekends, the Badgers have allowed just 2.9 yards per snap. It’s hard to overstate the excellence of this defense. But with interceptions in nine of his 12 games this season, Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is a wild card. Unless the rushing attack has an unexpected surge opposite a stout front seven, Hornibrook needs to play a mistake-free game. While that could happen, we’re not expecting it.”
Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 27.
PickCenter: TeamRankings has a projected score of 28.9-22.6 while NumberFire’s average is 31.0-26.5, both with Ohio State winning. The latter also gives the Badgers a 63.5 percent likelihood over covering while getting 6.5 points.
Four of the seven analysts at SI.com think Wisconsin will emerge with a victory. Molly Geary writes: “The Badgers have been facing skeptics all season. It’s obviously not without reason, but the hunch here is that Wisconsin’s stout offensive line and defense are going to hold up and be the difference in by far their toughest challenge of the season.”
Of the three Athlon Sports analysts, only one is picking Wisconsin to win — Mitch Light. Steven Lasaan and Bryan Fischer think Ohio State will win.
Four of the five analysts at the Los Angeles Times pick Wisconsin to win. The scores: Ben Bolch, Ohio State 31-21; Zach Helfand, Wisconsin 21-20; Mike Hiserman, Wisconsin 24-20; Angel Rodriguez, Wisconsin 21-13; David Wharton, Wisconsin 24-23.