Nothing like a little adversity to test a team's resolve and determination, right? Facing a 21-7 halftime deficit against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Ohio State Buckeyes rallied in the second half, defeating the Badgers by an impressive 34-21 score in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night. Ohio State completely shut down what had been working for Wisconsin in the first half, while racking up 27 unanswered points.
Moments after claiming a third straight Big Ten title, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day stated, "I think we deserve to be No. 1." Ohio State will have to settle for being No. 2, as the Buckeyes and LSU swapped spots. Next up for Ohio State is a showdown with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 28. While it certainly won't be easy, here are five reasons why the Buckeyes can win two more games to claim their first national title since 2014.
5 Reasons Why Ohio State Will Win the College Football Playoff
1. Ohio State is a complete team
Whether it's offense, defense, or special teams, this Buckeyes team checks all of the boxes. With an offense that is lethal both on the ground and through the air, it is extremely challenging for any defense to clamp down and keep Ohio State from scoring. The defense has a tremendous pass rush is also is effective at shutting down an opponent's running and passing game. As for special teams, the coverage units are effective at pinning an opponent deep with excellent coverage.
2. Justin Fields will be healthier
Nursing a sprained MCL in his left knee, Fields was wearing a bulky leg brace that was hampering his effectiveness as a runner in the Big Ten Championship Game. With a few weeks rest, Fields may not be at full strength by Dec. 28 but he should be better than he was over the past several games. And that was still plenty good enough for Ohio State to finish the regular season undefeated and then claim the conference title.
3. Chase Young requires double-teaming
Young was routinely facing double-teams by opponents the last few games of the regular season. While this was undoubtedly frustrating for him, it opened up opportunities for other defensive linemen to step up and make an impact on the opposition's passing game with quarterback sacks and hurries. It is essentially asking the opponent to pick their poison when it comes to game-planning against the Buckeyes' defensive front.
4. J.K. Dobbins is a complete back
No matter if Dobbins is running the ball, or serving as an outlet receiver in the passing game, he is difficult to shut down for an entire game. Patient as a runner, with a mauling offensive line in front of him, Dobbins will slowly and surely gain positive yardage in smaller increments in the first half of a game. In the second half, the runs that were only getting three or four yards start to turn into gains of 10, 20 or more yards.
5. Ohio State's coaching staff excels at halftime adjustments
Evidenced by the two most recent games — at Michigan, vs. Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game — Ryan Day and his staff are quickly able to regroup and refocus their team on shutting down their opponents' respective bread and butter plays, and doing what is necessary to find a rhythm that allows the Buckeyes to get back into a positive mode on either side of the ball. Granted, the opposition will be tougher in the playoff, starting with Clemson, but do not bet against Day and his staff being able to adjust their game plan to keep Ohio State on the winning side of the ledger.