The Big Ten championship is on the line as the 6-1 Northwestern Wildcats tangle with the 5-0 Ohio State Buckeyes inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon EST.

The respective winners of the Big Ten's East and West divisions did not meet in the regular season, but the Buckeyes have dominated the series. Ohio State has won 32 of the previous 33 meetings, including last season's 52-3 drubbing in Evanston and a three-touchdown victory in the 2018 conference title game.

The Wildcats' last victory in the series was a 33-27 overtime thriller in October of 2004.

Northwestern Wildcats Outlook

Northwestern's one-point win over Iowa on Halloween proved to be the difference as both schools finished with six wins, the most in their side of the conference. The Wildcats' lone loss came to Michigan State after Northwestern vaulted all the way to being the eighth-ranked team in the country.

They'll enter this title game ranked 14th, behind only Ohio State and Indiana in terms of fellow Big Ten schools.

The Wildcats don't blow you away statistically, as they had three different running backs rush for 200 or more yards and five rush for at least two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Peyton Ramsey threw for 1,218 yards, good for sixth in the conference, but had only nine touchdowns and six interceptions in their seven games.

The Indiana transfer's last meeting with the Buckeyes was similar to that of Northwestern's as the Hoosiers fell 51-10 in Bloomington a year ago with Ramsey under center.

Ohio State Buckeyes Outlook

Ohio State was afforded a new lease on life last week when the Big Ten announced that the Buckeyes would, in fact, be eligible for the conference championship game. Prior to the season, the league ruled that a school would have to play a minimum of six games to qualify unless the average number of games played by each program was five or less.

Indiana would have been the beneficiaries of Ohio State's absence, but that point has been made moot in light of last week's reversal.

Ohio State will still have plenty to prove on Saturday as not only will it look to secure its fourth straight conference crown, but a win would also likely assure it a spot in the College Football Playoff. Despite getting three of their games canceled and not playing since Dec. 5, the Buckeyes enter Saturday's showdown ranked fourth in the CFP rankings.

Justin Fields' chances at the Heisman are slim at this point due to those cancellations, but he still led the Big Ten in touchdown passes and finished fourth in passing yards. Fields also added another five touchdowns on the ground.

Betting Line and Pick

Ohio State has been installed as a 20.5-point favorite in the Big Ten Championship Game, with an over/under of 59.5. The Buckeyes were 3-2 ATS during the regular season, while the Wildcats were an impressive 5-1-1. The only time they failed to cover was the outright loss to Michigan State when Northwestern was a 13.5-point favorite.

Texas A&M will have a keen eye on championship weekend, as losses by both Ohio State and Clemson likely propels it into the playoff. Any other scenario after that is up in the air. But expect the Buckeyes to come out focused and take it to Northwestern.

Pick: Ohio State -20.5

Posted 
Dec 16, 2020
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