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Nation, World Sports

Ohio State edges Wisconsin for Big Ten title

| Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, 12:21 a.m.
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, right, runs with the ball as Wisconsin safety Joe Ferguson gives chase during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, right, runs with the ball as Wisconsin safety Joe Ferguson gives chase during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Officials pull up part of the artificial turf in the end zone to examine a during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game between Wisconsin and Ohio State , Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Officials pull up part of the artificial turf in the end zone to examine a during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game between Wisconsin and Ohio State , Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Ohio State safety Damon Webb celebrates during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday against Wisconsin, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. Ohio State won 27-21. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Ohio State safety Damon Webb celebrates during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday against Wisconsin, Dec. 2, 2017, in Indianapolis. Ohio State won 27-21. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS — J.T. Barrett looked just fine Saturday. Now it's up to college football's selection committee to decide whether No. 8 Ohio State has done enough to earn a playoff bid.

Six days after having surgery on his right knee, Barrett threw two touchdown passes, ran for another and had a crucial fourth-down conversion late in the game to give the Buckeyes a 27-21 victory over previously unbeaten No. 3 Wisconsin in Saturday's Big Ten championship game.

Ohio State (11-2) claimed its first conference crown since its 2014 national championship season. The loss ended the nation's longest active winning streak at 13 and probably doomed the playoff hopes of the Badgers (12-1).

The reason: Barrett's incredibly speedy recovery.

While most athletes need at least two or three weeks to recover from minor knee surgery, Barrett told doctors and coaches he would be OK. And after watching Barrett in pregame warmups with a protective brace around the injured knee, Barrett got the starting nod and played like the three-time conference quarterback of the year.

After running nine yards to convert a third down on the Buckeyes' second possession of the game, he found a wide open Terry McLaurin for an 84-yard TD pass to make it 7-0.

Two possessions later, Barrett's threw a short pass to Parris Campbell, who turned a missed tackle into a 57-yard mistake for another score. Then after a 77-yard run by J.K. Dobbins, Barrett powered in from the 1-yard line to give the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Sure, Barrett made some mistakes and missed some receivers.

But the only time he really paid for it came on an ill-advised pass from near his goal line in the first quarter. Barrett was picked off by Andrew Van Ginkel, who returned it nine yards for a Wisconsin score.

Otherwise, the Buckeyes were pretty much in control.

Wisconsin closed the deficit to 21-10 at the half and 21-13 early in the third quarter.

The Badgers offense finally broke through early in the fourth by capping a 52-yard drive with a Chris James' 1-yard TD run and a 2-point conversion pass from Alex Hornibrook to Troy Fumagalli after a delay to repair the field. That cut the deficit to 24-21 with 12:39 to go.

Barrett's fourth-and-1 conversion on the next series set up a short field goal, and the Badgers couldn't rally on their final two possessions to save the perfect season.

Barrett finished 12 of 26 with 211 yards, two TDs, two interceptions and rushed 19 times for 60 yards.

Since getting blown out at Iowa last month, the Buckeyes have been trying to play their way back into the playoff picture. The win over Wisconsin just might do it. Three of the four playoff spots were likely sewn up Saturday, going to Big 12 champ Oklahoma, SEC champ Georgia and ACC champ Clemson. Will the committee take another conference champion over Auburn or Alabama? Stay tuned until Sunday.

Critics contended the Badgers were never as good as their undefeated record because of a weak schedule. On Saturday, they fought to the end but still came up short. The usually stout defense missed too many tackles and gave up too many big plays.

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