tBBC Game Preview: Northwestern at #6/#8 Ohio State




The Buckeyes are coming off a loss at Penn State in a game where seven of the nine units did not come through as a whole. There are a whole lot of questions heading into the weekends match-up with arguably one of the hottest teams in the conference right now. The Buckeyes do not need answers at quarterback or running back but have plenty at wide receiver.

They also seem to have everything in hand on the Silver Bullets side of things where the bend but don’t break mentality has truly only cost them on two drives all season. Granted, those two drives have caused them to be 1-1 in those games but they aren’t struggling in the slightest!

The Wildcats are on a three game winning streak right now and part of it was a total destruction of Michigan State who is still reeling from it. They have one of the better one-two punches in the conference in Austin Carr and Justin Jenkins who are rolling right now and is the heart of the offense. The defense has been leading the charge as well and will challenge the Buckeyes to throw the ball first.

The Intangibles

TV: ESPN; Dave Pasch (play-by-play) Greg McElroy (analyst) Tom Luginbill (sideline)

Radio: Ohio State IMG Network 97.1 WBNS (Paul Keels, Jim Lachey, and Matt Andrews)

Online: WatchESPN / Ohio State IMG Network / TuneIn

Social Media: @OhioStateFB /@NUFBFamily

Series Record: Buckeyes lead the all-time series 60-14-1, including a 32-8 mark in games played in Columbus. Ohio State has won the last five meetings and 29 of the last 30. NU’s last win in Columbus was back in 1971.(per OhioStateBuckeyes.com)

Previewing the Wildcats

Sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson completed 24-of-43 attempts for 285 yards and three touchdowns versus Indiana.  Tied for second in the B1G in touchdowns with 14 and is third in passing yards with 1,686; passing yards per game with 240 Has thrown three touchdown passes in each of the last three games, becoming the first Northwestern quarterback in the last 20 years to accomplish the feat. Has accounted for 11 touchdowns with 9 passing/2 rushing during the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak.

Senior defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo picked up yet another sack in the Wildcats’ win over Indiana. He now leads the B1G with eight sacks this season and ranks third nationally. He set a program record with four sacks at Iowa to earn B1G Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors. He became the first player with multiple sacks in back-to-back games for Northwestern when he had two more at Michigan State.

Junior running back Justin Jackson was named the B1G Co-Offensive Player of the Week after he carried the ball a season-high 34 times and rushed for a career-high 188 yards and two scores in the Wildcats’ 54-40 win over Michigan State. Senior wide receiver Austin Carr leads the B1G in receptions with 50; receiving yards with 720; receiving yards per game with 102.9 and touchdown receptions with 9.

The Wildcats have won their last five B1G road games dating back to last season. The winning streak includes victories at Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State. The Wildcats have allowed just 264 rushing yards while accumulating 916 yards on the ground. Something will definitely give as they face the Buckeyes. The key to them continuing the streak will be to control the line of scrimmage as Penn State did.

Previewing the Buckeyes

The Buckeyes are coming off an upset loss to Penn State in hostile Happy Valley and look to rebound like most Urban Meyer teams in the past. In 188 games he has coached his teams have gotten back to winning quickly after a loss. His teams have lost consecutive games only four times in 15 seasons and he has had just one three-game losing streak. His last back-to-back losses were at the end of the 2013 season to Michigan State and Clemson.

The Buckeyes have won the last five meetings with Northwestern and 29 of the last 30 overall.

Ohio State’s defense has given up just eight touchdowns this season and has allowed just two rushing scores, tied for the fewest in college football.  The Buckeye defense has scored four defensive TDs on the season, second most in college football. They rank second in the FBS in red zone defense with a.650, fourth in turnover margin with +1.29 and fifth in scoring defense wiht 14.4 per game average; total defense giving up 279.7 per game and pass efficiency defense with 91.2.

Malik Hooker is one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back. Hooker is tied for sixth nationally with four interceptions and is third on the team with 36 tackles, including 4.0 tackles-for-loss. Jerome Baker leads Ohio State with 43 tackles and is tied for second with 6.0 TFL.

Offensively, the Buckeyes  rank fifth in college football and second in the B1G with 45.3 points per game.  J.T. Barrett is Ohio State’s all-time leader with 90 touchdowns responsible for, 62 passing and 28 rushing.  Curtis Samuel ranks second in the B1G with 142.6 all-purpose yards per game and 37 total receptions.

Per OhioStateBuckeyes.com

30 OF 44 FRESHMEN HAVE PLAYED Ohio State is 6-1, including Top 15 wins on the road against Oklahoma (No. 14 at the time) and Wisconsin (No. 8), with a team that features 16 new starters this season. So far Ohio State has had 14 players make their first starts this year with four other players – H-back Curtis Samuel, LB Chris Worley, DE Sam Hubbard and DT Michael Hill – having made just one start prior to this season. A total of 30 freshmen out of 44 on the roster have played this season, including 12 true freshmen led by starting left guard Michael Jordan and defensive end Nick Bosa, who is tied for the team lead with 4.0 sacks and is second with 6.0 TFLs.

The Buckeyes have to get back on course to be in the CFP talk in a few weeks. After being tripped up by unranked Penn State and only dropping a few spots it’s clear America thinks they are one of the best teams in the country still. Time and change will surely show . . ,

Three Key Match-ups


Ohio State Run Game versus Northwestern Run Defense

Something will definitely have to give between these two. The Buckeyes boast one of the best running games in the nation with a three headed monster of Mike Weber Jr., Curtis Samuel and JT Barrett toting the rock. The Buckeyes need to get back on track with the clock control game and keep the ball away from the getting better offense of the Wildcats.

Northwestern Pass Game versus the Buckeyes Secondary

In a game where you suspect the ground attack will be the flavor of the day for Northwestern, they have been pretty successful improving their passing game stats and connections with Austin Carr who is the best WR in the B1G right now. The work the Buckeyes secondary has cut out for them won’t necessarily be the Carr show as much as containing the tight end and keeping the lock-down that has been going on this season. Shutting down the slants and outside gaps will be a tall task for the Buckeyes this week.

Turnovers versus Turnovers

Both the Buckeyes and the Wildcats have been enjoying a certain measure of winning the turnover battle. In the statistical world of college football, blocked punts and field-goals do not go down as turnovers because of the down in which they take place. This can come back to haunt the Buckeyes this week as Northwestern is pretty good on special teams. To win the turnover battle, the Buckeyes will have to take care of the football period.


The Buckeyes are coming off a heart-breaker and it almost seems like the coaches and player are a little offended that people are questioning their level of play right now. From my perspective that is a good thing and will go a long way to them proving their worth to us fans and the nation. Fortunately, the Buckeyes only dropped a few spots in each poll and can still keep their eyes on the prize.

Unfortunately there is no rest for the weary and the Buckeyes cannot get caught looking ahead to next weeks top ten match-up with Nebraska. They have to keep their minds on this week and a very hot Northwestern team coming off three straight impressive wins. The Wildcats are 8-1 in their last nine B1G conference games tying TTUN with that mark which happens to be the best since their head coach played.

Austin Carr and Justin Jackson are the only duo in the country leading their conference in their respective offensive categories. They will have to have above average games to beat the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are statistically at-least number one or number two in every category in the B1G. The key to Saturdays game will be how the offensive line recovers from the beating they took last Saturday in Happy Valley. The Buckeyes recover well and get back to their winning ways 38-13 over the Wildcats.


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