football Edit

Big Ten Championship Game: Where the stars came from

For the third time in the last six seasons, the Big Ten title game comes down to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Here are some key players on each side and how we rated them out of high school.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.


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Justin Fields
Justin Fields (AP Images)

The skinny: Fields initially committed to Penn State, but then re-opened his recruitment and signed with Georgia. He then decided to transfer to Ohio State after seeing minimal action in 12 games as a true freshman while backing up Jake Fromm. In his first season with the Buckeyes he has quickly become one of the top quarterbacks in the country, passing for 2,352 yards, 33 touchdowns and only one interception and rushing for 445 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Farrell’s take: Fields was a no-brainer five-star coming out of high school and behind only Trevor Lawrence in the overall rankings. It would be pretty amazing to see a Lawrence-Fields matchup for the national title. Fields has been almost perfect this season and the debate as to which quarterback is better rages on.

The skinny: Dobbins also considered Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Texas, but when Ohio State offered in mid-February it only took him a couple of weeks before deciding to commit to the Buckeyes. After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, Dobbins is enjoying his best collegiate season this fall with 1,446 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 6.6 yards per carry.

Farrell’s take: We loved Dobbins out of high school and we kept him ranked high despite missing almost his entire senior season. He has proven us right and then some. He’s the most important player on the Ohio State roster.

The skinny: In the summer before his senior season and shortly after attending the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights camp, Young committed to Ohio State. Maryland was also considered, but the Buckeyes were always thought to be the favorite. With expectations extremely high after Young totaled 14.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks in 2018, Young has reached new heights this fall with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles for the undefeated Buckeyes.

Farrell’s take: Young was a five-star coming out of high school and an athletic freak who could dip his shoulder with the best of them. He could take over games at the high school level and is doing the same in college. He should be the Heisman winner although we know a defensive player won’t get that respect.

The skinny: Okudah committed to Ohio State over Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida State at the All-American Bowl. After showing glimpses of his potential last fall, Okudah has proven himself as one of the top defensive backs in the country this fall with 24 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Farrell’s take: Okudah was a five-star safety coming out of high school but he showed he could play cornerback as well so his development is no surprise. He’s a lock-down guy and a surefire first-rounder who should be able to shut down one side of the field in this game.

The skinny: Harrison took official visits to Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State before committing to the Buckeyes on National Signing Day. While Chase Young has deservedly received more attention, Harrison has also had an impressive season on the other end. Coming into the game with 61 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries, don’t be surprised if Harrison makes a game-changing play during the game.

Farrell’s take: Harrison was a great athlete coming out of high school with good size and great hops. The problem was projecting him at a position. He played linebacker and quarterback in his senior year but some felt he would be a good wide receiver or tight end or even grow into a defensive end. He’s become special at the linebacker position.



Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor (AP Images)

The skinny: The former four-star had been committed to Rutgers but he flipped his pledge to Wisconsin after taking an official visit to Madison for the Badgers’ game against Ohio State. Taylor has pieced together an amazing career in Madison, one that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Having totaled 5,932 yards and 49 touchdowns on the ground during his three seasons, while averaging 6.7 yards per carry, it is no secret that the Buckeyes will be keying on him Saturday.

Farrell’s take: Taylor was an elite back coming out of high school with good size and speed and nifty feet. He’s the latest in a long line of New Jersey running backs to have success at Wisconsin and he’s the key to the offense.

The skinny: Biadasz held a quartet of FCS offers when he took an unofficial visit to Madison and picked up an offer from Wisconsin. Less than two days later he committed to the Badgers. After redshirting in 2016, he has become a mainstay on the offensive line during the last two seasons. Anchoring the line from the center position, Biadasz decided to forego the NFL Draft earlier this year. A team leader this fall, he has continued his dominant play for the Badgers, while paving the way for Jonathan Taylor.

Farrell’s take: Biadasz was a three-star prospect who lacked great size and power out of high school but had smarts and athleticism. We had him ranked as a defensive tackle because he seemed to excel at that position and was aggressive. Biadasz has taken that aggression and brought it to the offensive line. The level of competition he played wasn’t great and we worried a bit about his frame, but he’s turned into your typical underrated, nasty Wisconsin offensive lineman.

The skinny: Orr committed to Wisconsin over Nevada and North Texas during an unofficial visit to campus in June. A steady contributor during his first three seasons with the Badgers, Orr is playing at a higher level during his final run in Madison. Coming into the Ohio State game with 71 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, he has made numerous big plays for the Badgers this season.

Farrell’s take: Orr was a diamond in the rough for Wisconsin, a two-star from Texas who was overlooked by almost everyone. This is what Wisconsin does; it takes projects like Orr and slowly turns them into key contributors.

The skinny: Baun committed to Wisconsin while attending a game during an unofficial visit. He was accepted as a greyshirt and didn’t enroll until the spring semester of 2016. His only other offer at the time of his commitment was from South Dakota State. After showing his potential last season, Baun has excelled this fall with 61 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.

Farrell’s take: Baum was an in-state three-star athlete who was a grayshirt take for Wisconsin and projected to play linebacker. He’s doing just that but is also an elite pass rusher and arguably the most disruptive player on defense for the Badgers.

The skinny: Coan picked up numerous offers after his junior season, but after an unofficial visit to Wisconsin in March he committed to the Badgers approximately two weeks later. Northwestern and Nebraska were the two schools that were also seriously considered. While most of the attention on the Badgers’ offense has rightfully gone to Taylor this fall, Coan has quietly put together a very solid season. Having passed for 2,307 yards and 17 touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions, Coan will need to have a big game on Saturday if Wisconsin hopes to push Ohio State.

Farrell’s take: Coan was a four-star quarterback coming out of high school who was tall and skinny but very accurate. He’s an excellent game manager and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes which is key in the Wisconsin offense.