The Wisconsin Badgers are currently out of the running for a Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin is a two-loss team, and the Badgers lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes earlier this season — all of that is true. What’s also true is that right now, Wisconsin is playing better football than any other team in the Big Ten, including their 20-7 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
First consider how the Badgers got their first loss — a non-conference heartbreaker to the Pac-12 South champion Arizona State Wildcats on the road. Wisconsin was in position to kick a game-winning field goal and was cheated out of those last few seconds by the referees. It can’t be assumed that the Badgers would have converted the field goal, but the odds favor that outcome. Wisconsin should have won that game based on their play on the field.
Their loss to Ohio State earlier this year was a different story. The Buckeyes legitimately defeated the Badgers 31-24 in Columbus. That was on September 28. In considering the body of work by both teams over the past two months against common opponents, it’s clear that Wisconsin has developed into the superior team.
The common opponents between the Badgers and Buckeyes since then are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern. In those four games, the Buckeyes won by an average margin of 18.25 points. Ohio State allowed those four opponents to score a total of 103 points. Wisconsin has won those same four games by an average of 30 points and allowed those four opponents to score just 50 total points .
Further evidence that the Badgers are the better team right now can be found when looking at where both teams rank stat-wise. Wisconsin’s defense is ranked sixth in all of FBS. The Badgers have the third-best third-down conversion percentage in the nation, and Wisconsin has the fourth-best time of possession average in the country. Ohio State ranks 12th, seventh and 23rd in those significant statistical categories.
While there are many intangibles that could come into play that might effect the outcome if the Badgers and Buckeyes were to play a game right now, it’s clear that the Badgers aren’t the team that they were back on September 28. Wisconsin has outperformed Ohio State since that date, and the Badgers are the scariest team in the Big Ten right now.