2020 Game Preview: B10 Championship – Ohio State vs Northwestern
Ohio State is playing for their fourth straight Big Ten Championship game, and their 6th overall. They have a chance to do something that has never been done in program history, and win a 4th straight conference title. These two teams played before in 2018, where Ohio State won 45-24 behind Dwayne Haskins arm. It wasn’t enough that season to make the playoff, but the Buckeyes of 2020 are hoping with a win, they are going to be a playoff lock.
The Big Ten made the decision to waive the minimum game requirement rule for Ohio State on Wednesday, December 9, to allow the Buckeyes to represent the Big Ten East. They had the head to head win over Indiana, who finishes the regular season 6-1 after having their game against Purdue cancelled for two straight weeks. This was a result of Michigan having to cancel The Game on Tuesday, December 8, and not allowing Ohio State to meet the original proposed 6 game threshold. Ohio State also is the last remaining undefeated team in the conference, and the best shot of making the playoff.
A bit of a different year means a different kick time. This game will be on FOX on the Noon time slot, when it was normally at the 8:17pm kick. For Buckeye fans, you will get to start your day with this game, and then watch the ACC game while flipping back and forth between that and the Buckeyes Basketball game against North Carolina. The outcome of the SEC and ACC games will determine the Buckeye’s seeding assuming the Buckeyes win.
Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
2020 Record: 6-1
Location: Evanston, IL
Conference: Big T
Ohio State Preview: There is probably nothing more upsetting than losing the rivalry game this season, a game which the players, coaches and staff work on every single day. Give credit to the leadership of the team though, as the Buckeyes were able to refocus and had a few extra days to prepare for this game, which might put Northwestern at an even more disadvantage. The Buckeyes had 9 players selected for the All-Big Ten team, including Justin Fields, who won the Offensive Player of the Year Award, as well as the Quarterback of the Year in the conference. Wyatt Davis became the 4th offensive lineman to win the Lineman of the Year award since 2015.
In 5 games, Justin Fields has passed for 1407 yards on 107/137 attempts. He has passed for 15 touchdowns, and only 3 interceptions, which all came in the Indiana game. He also has 239 yards rushing on 55 attempts and 5 touchdowns, good enough for the 3rd leading rusher on the team.
The honor for the leading season rusher is Master Teague, who made 2nd team All-Big Ten. He has 426 yards rushing on 87 carries an 6 touchdowns. Right behind him is Trey Sermon, who has 344 yards on the ground on 55 carries, along with 1 rushing touchdown.
Garrett Willson and Chris Olave both made All-Big Ten this season in limited games. Wilson has a slight lead with 572 yards receiving on 34 catches and 5 touchdowns. Olave has 528 yards on 36 catches and 5 touchdowns as well.
The defense has 301 total tackles for the year, to go along with 14 sacks and 4 interceptions. Tommy Togiai led the team in sacks with 3.
Northwestern Preview: A year after going 3-9 for the year, Pat Fitzgerald turned the team around after 1 year, and got his team back into the Big Ten Championship game for the second time in 3 years. He might have the Wildcats competing for the Big Ten West along with Wisconsin and Iowa. The lone loss for the year so far was against Michigan State, which they Wildcats had rallied back after trailing 17-0 into the second quarter, but couldn’t overcome the points and fell 29-20. They were able to handle Iowa with a 1 point win, and defeated Wisconsin 17-7 as their two big wins this season.
Peyton Ramsey transferred from Indiana, and was the starting quarterback this season for the Wildcats. He finished the regular season with 1218 yards passing on 124/210 attempts to go along with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also add 169 yards rushing on 64 carries and a touchdown.
The Wildcats had 3 running backs rush for over 200 yards. Drake Anderson led the backs with 256 yards on 62 carries and 2 touchdowns. Isaiah Bowser rushed for 229 yards on 77 carries and touchdown. Evan Hull had 202 yards on 23 carries and 2 touchdowns.
Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman led the receivers with 344 yards on 30 catches and 4 touchdowns. Kyric McGowan also had 30 catches for the year with 333 yards. Riley Lees was third in yardage with 150 yards on 14 catches and 1 touchdown.
The defense is the pride of Northwestern who has 465 total tackles, along with 10 sacks and 12 interceptions.
Buckeye Spotlight: Justin Fields. He might be out of Heisman consideration, but he is still the best athlete on the field, and was just named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. How he does will dictate the success of the offense, and help him get more game reps before the post season.
Wildcat Spotlight: Peyton Ramsey. This name should be familiar for Buckeye fans, as he was he quarterback for Indiana when they played each other last year. He will need to protect the ball to keep the Wildcats in this game.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 4. Since the Big Ten introduced a conference Championship game in 2011, there have been 4 teams that have made it 2 times or more. Ohio State and Wisconsin are tied with 6 trips, Michigan State has made it 3 times, and Northwestern has now made it 2 times.
Prediction: Ohio State is right at the cusp and still remains in the 4th spot for the College Football Playoff. Normally, it should be a win and in situation, but maybe Ryan Day needs to ask how many points Pat Fitzgerald is willing to get beat by because the Buckeyes might need some style points as well to prove they are one of the best 4 teams depending on what happens in the games after this one. Justin Fields looked great against Michigan State, and the Buckeyes have the offensive line back. Northwestern might slow down the Buckeyes some, but Ohio State has too much talent and creative offensive schematics to be trapped or contained the whole game. With this game being played in a dome, the Buckeyes are ready for a track meet.
Ohio State 52 – Northwestern 7