INDIANAPOLIS -- No. 5 Ohio State left little doubt Saturday night about which team is the Big Ten's best, as it routed No. 13 and favored Wisconsin 59-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium to notch its first league title under coach Urban Meyer. Here's how it went down:
How the game was won: Where to begin? Cardale Jones showed no rookie nerves in his first career start and hit Devin Smith for a 39-yard touchdown toss to complete a six-play, 77-yard opening drive that took a whopping 1:59. The Buckeyes' offense was in rhythm from then on and proved way too much for a Badgers defense that entered the contest ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Game ball goes to: Smith deserves plenty of credit for making a number of great adjustments on deep touchdown passes and helping ease Jones in. Jones deserves plenty of recognition, too. But the best player on the field was Ezekiel Elliott, who eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark and did it in style by breaking off a 60-yard run late with one shoe -- he lost the other early in the play. The Buckeyes were all about the style points in the second half.
What it means: The next-man-in cliche takes on an entirely new meaning with these Buckeyes, whose preseason No. 3 quarterback, Jones, looked like a seasoned vet on a big stage. Making his first career start, one week after starter J.T. Barrett went down with a broken ankle -- which came after the initial starting quarterback, Braxton Miller, suffered a preseason shoulder injury that wiped out his 2014 -- the redshirt sophomore looked nothing like a third-stringer. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, meanwhile, likely saw his Heisman Trophy hopes die against the Buckeyes, though the record-setting running back should still be New York-bound as a finalist.
Playoff implication: Is Ohio State one of the four best teams in the nation? Anyone who watched this game would have a hard time seeing otherwise, as the Buckeyes left a resounding final impression. But their fate is in the hands of the College Football Playoff selection committee, whose playoff field will be announced at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN. No. 5 Ohio State has to hope the committee places it above one of the four teams ahead of it entering the weekend -- all of which won.
What's next: Wisconsin will not be going to an access bowl, as the now 10-3 Badgers will probably end up in the Outback Bowl or the National University Holiday Bowl. Ohio State is hoping to crack the College Football Playoff, but if the Buckeyes are left out, they will be going to either the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl or the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl.