Conference championship week features a bevy of colossal matchups, but there may not be any bigger than the Big Ten Championship, as No. 4 Wisconsin takes on No. 8 Ohio State in a battle that is likely to play a massive part in determining the final playoff team.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on FOX. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch the game on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch today’s game at no cost:
FuboTV: Fox (live in 70-plus markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package, which is $19.99 per month for the first two months and $39.99 per month after that. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
DirecTV Now: Fox (live in 39 markets) is included in all four channel packages, ranging from $35 to $70 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get $25 off your first month if you enter promo code “BDAY2017”. You can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: Fox (live in 17 markets) is included in the “Sling Blue” channel package for $25 per month. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the Sling website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
Wisconsin, whose best two wins this season have come at home against Iowa and Michigan, has a lot of strength-of-schedule skeptics, but this is still nevertheless simple for the Badgers: Win, and you have a greater than 99 percent chance of getting into the college football playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections.
For Ohio State, things aren’t nearly as cut-and-dry. Assuming the winners of the ACC (Clemson vs Miami) and SEC (Auburn vs Georgia) championship games get into the playoff, and assuming Oklahoma joins them should they beat TCU, that leaves one spot for either the Buckeyes or Alabama. Is a win over Wisconsin–a team the committee hasn’t given a great deal of respect to–enough for a two-loss No. 8 Ohio State team to jump a one-loss No. 5 Alabama team that the committee had at No. 1 just a week ago? For what it’s worth, with hypothetical Clemson, Oklahoma, Auburn, USC and Ohio State victories this weekend, FiveThirtyEight gives the Buckeyes a 41 percent chance at the playoff, while USC and Alabama are at 30 and 28 percent, respectively. We know the committee values conference championship wins, but this will be a situation where we find out just how much.
As for the game itself, the Buckeyes are favored by six points, as many are still finding it hard to believe in Wisconsin as a legitimate elite team. If the Badgers are going to prove their detractors wrong, they’ll need that elite defense (first in America in opponent points per game, yards per game and yards per play) to slow down J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes’ explosive offense.
It’s a fascinating contrast of strengths, and it should be an entertaining battle–at the very least, more entertaining than the 2014 Big Ten title game, which saw Ohio State rout Wisconsin, 59-0–in what looks to be a playoff play-in game.