JT Barrett and Ohio State make their case with win over Wisconsin

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On November 4th, 2017, the Ohio State Buckeyes essentially lost playoff candidacy when it lost by 31 points to a middling Iowa team.

Much of the Badgers' success was seemingly the Buckeyes' own doing, with quarterback J.T. Barrett throwing two interceptions - including a pick-6 interception - and running back Mike Weber fumbling on OSU's own 11-yard line.

The win, which was buoyed by a slew of explosive plays from the Buckeyes' speedy skill position players, figures to incite tremendous debate among the College Football Playoff selection committee in advance of Sunday's final rankings reveal.

Ohio State held off a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Wisconsin and quarterback Alex Hornibrook to capture its first conference championship since 2014 after taking a 21-7 lead over the Badgers early in the first half. The Badgers' first of few promising first-half drives ended when Hornibrook under-threw a fade route to Fumagalli in the red zone, giving Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward an opportunity for an interception.

UW entered Saturday's game having allowed just three plays of 50-plus yards this season, but the Badgers surrendered four such plays to Ohio State. RB J.K. Dobbins needs 48 yards to break Maurice Clarett's school record for a freshman (1,237).

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After Rafael Gaglianone's 46-yard field goal cut the Buckeyes' advantage to one score at 21-13, Dobbins broke through the line for another long gain. If it's truly "four best" teams, however, Alabama will make it over Ohio State. That drew howls from those favoring conference champions being rewarded. Stanford 16. LSU 17. Barrett, according to published reports, had arthroscopic surgery last Sunday to clean up a torn meniscus.

On Thursday, Urban Meyer said Barrett has been cleared to play in the game.

Freshman backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins, an All-Met at Bullis High, performed admirably in relief last week but watched from the sideline as Barrett marched onto the field to start the game. What sunk Penn State's chances a year ago was its 49-10 loss at MI. Barrett absorbed his first significant contact while being tackled during a third-down scramble on Ohio State's opening possession but popped right up without any apparent discomfort.

That a two-loss Buckeyes team was passed over shouldn't be stunning. Following the 2016 season, Clemson returned the favor with a 35-31 victory that came on Deshaun Watson's 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with 1 second remaining.

The Badgers lost the Big Ten championship for the second straight year, and the consolation prize will be another New Year's Day Six bowl. Despite the Clemson running backs only combining for 69 yards, they contributed four touchdowns in the Tigers' victory.

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