Penn State has been the best big play offense in the country. Wisconsin has been one of the best big play defenses in the nation. The two teams will hook up Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Nittany Lions boast the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in running back Saquon Barkley to go along with big play quarterback Trace McSorley.
It’s McSorley that has been at the forefront of Penn State’s playmaking prowess. Twenty of the 26 plays of 40 or more yards have come from McSorley finding Penn State receivers. He’s willing to throw into coverage because his receivers make plays.
The Badgers are as well equipped defensively to contest McSorley and his band of playmaking threats.
Wisconsin leads the country in interceptions with 21 and have allowed just eight plays of 40 yards or more this season. That ranks 10th in the country. The 21 interceptions are three more than the Badgers had in each of the last two seasons.
It sets up a tremendous matchup in the Big Ten title game. Neither of these teams was projected to be playing for the Big Ten Championship at the beginning season.
Wisconsin got very little consideration and Penn State received none at all. The lack of respect served as fuel for both teams fire.
Both teams exceeded expectations to the point that each coach was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst was given the top coaching honor in a vote of his peers. James Franklin was selected as the coach of the year in a vote by the media.
The two teams also carry the league’s two longest active win streaks into the game. Penn State, after a two and two start, has reeled off eight straight wins. Prior to that win streak, there was talk of the head coaches job security. Paul Chryst hasn’t had to worry about that in Madison. His team has reeled off six straight wins to end the regular season.
There’s been little talk about the College Football Playoffs. Both teams have stuck to concentrating only instead of something that is out of their control.