The 2020 Big Ten Championship Game is almost here and No. 4 Ohio State will put its College Football Playoff hopes on the line against No. 14 Northwestern on Saturday. It was only a matter of months ago that we weren't even sure this game would take place. The Big Ten was the first Power Five conference to decide about the 2020 season, initially deciding to postpone it. Then after seeing conferences like the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 get a season going without too many problems, along with some pressure from within the conference, the Big Ten relented.
It reversed course and decided to try and fit in an eight-game schedule in eight weeks with one ultimate goal: to be eligible for the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten also change its mind about requirements to play for the Big Ten title when it became clear that Ohio State -- its lone CFP contender -- wouldn't meet them. And now, here we are, with the Buckeyes taking on an upstart Northwestern team that would love nothing more than to ruin everybody's playoff party.
A win for Ohio State would give the Buckeyes their fourth straight Big Ten title and 39th in school history. It would also solidify their playoff hopes. For Northwestern, a win would bring the school's first conference title since 2000 and its first outright title since 1995.
After the third quarter, the Buckeyes again lead 13-10 with the Big Ten title and the CFP both looking a bit brighter. What will happen over the rest of the game? Here's how to watch and what else you need to know.
Event: Big Ten Championship Game
Date: Saturday, Dec. 19 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium -- Indianapolis
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Ohio State: Ohio State and Nebraska were two of the most vocal opponents of the Big Ten's initial decision to postpone the 2020 season. Of the two, Ohio State had the most legit gripe. While Nebraska might have fancied itself a College Football Playoff contender, Ohio State has always been one, and it was losing the chance to compete for a national title. Now, thanks to a couple of reversals, Ohio State has its chance. The Buckeyes have had a strange season, seeing three games canceled, with only one due to COVID cases on the Buckeyes' part. It sits in the top four of the CFP Rankings, but it could use an impressive performance against Northwestern here to offset some of the complaints about not playing enough games. Whether or not that truly matters to the selection committee, we don't know. If it did, you'd think they'd have shown it by now, but then again, it's a fool's errand to search for logic in the CFP's thought process.
Northwestern: It's been a remarkable turnaround in Evanston this season. At this time last year, the Wildcats season was over. The team was 3-9 and at the bottom of the Big Ten West. This year, they've gone from worst to first, having gone undefeated in five division games (the lone loss came to Michigan State). Now, after surpassing nearly everybody's expectations, Northwestern has a chance to do it again. A win over Ohio State on Saturday would give Northwestern its first outright Big Ten title since 1995 (they were co-champions in 1996 and 2000).
Ohio State vs. Northwestern prediction
The instinct here is to lay the points with Ohio State because the Buckeyes will be looking to make a point. If you want to do that, I say go for it. Me? I'm going to be on the Wildcats. I don't think Northwestern has a good chance to win this game, but I can sense that they're going to be able to muck it up. It's just a perfect storm of everything Northwestern loves. Nobody thinks it has a prayer. All the talk is about Ohio State's playoff case. Its athletic director is leaving to take over the ACC. Its long-time defensive coordinator is retiring after the season. There are even rumors -- as spurious as they likely are -- that Pat Fitzgerald could be in line to coach the Chicago Bears. We're going to get Northwestern's absolute best effort here. It's probably not enough to win, but it will be enough to keep it within three touchdowns. Pick: Northwestern (+20.5)