Game Preview: Ohio State vs Northwestern

The first College Football Playoff rankings came out on Tuesday, and Ohio State was picked as the number 2 team in the country between Tennessee and Georgia, who play each other this weekend. The Buckeyes know what they have to do, and what is coming at the end of the season. Win out, win the Big Ten, and there is no question they will be in. The committee thinks highly of the Buckeyes balance and statistical dominance despite their schedule to this point. If Notre Dame can somehow beat Clemson, that would be a huge boost for the Buckeyes, but their destiny is still ahead of them. 

November is one of the best sports month of the year, and this year is no different. Its even better to be undefeated at this point, and that is were the Buckeyes sit as of November 4th. Their next three games should be wins, and the game against Michigan should be a battle of unbeaten teams. Ohio State knows they have been burned before, but there is a saying that the finest steel has to go through the hottest fire, and the Buckeyes are embracing it for this final third of the season.

Know the Opponent:

Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald (17th season)
2022 Record: 1-7
Location: Evanston, IL
Conference: Big Ten

Ohio State Preview

The Buckeyes start the first game in a three game stretch that should be tune up games before the big game on November 26th against Michigan. This is not to bash Northwestern, Indiana, or Maryland, but if Ohio State wants to be the team that makes it to the playoff, these games should never be in doubt. Alot has been made about the run game for the last two weeks, and even the media has challenged Ryan Day’s play calling, but with a closer look at the film, it is not as bad as it is being made out to be. The fix is just in making sure the line and wide outs are getting their blocks and maintaining gap assignment. TreVeyon Henderson too needs to be more efficient with his decision making and get the confidence that we saw last year in his freshman year. If the Buckeyes can clean those things up, and keep getting better in the pass defense, they should be in a really good spot. 

CJ Stroud continues to lead the country in passing touchdowns and QBR. For the first time since the start of the year, he is no longer the betting favorite for the Heisman, and his competition in Hendon Hooker has a big opportunity this weekend against Georgia. Although he didn’t have the touchdown numbers he normally does against Penn State last week, it was one of his better games in terms of efficiency and opening up routes for Marvin Harrison to drive the ball down the field. He has 2377 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He is completing his passes with a 71% completion rate. 

TreVeyon Henderson leads the running back room with 552 yard and 6 touchdowns on 96 carries. Miyan Williams was set back with a hand injury in the Penn State game, but is expected to play this week. He has 76 carries for 525 yards and 10 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if Dallan Hayden and Chip Trayanum will get in the game as well if the Buckeyes have a commanding lead as they are expected to, and could see playing time in the 4th quarter. 

Emeka Egbuka leads the receivers with 47 catches for 788 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not far behind him though is Marvin Harrison Jr with 48 catches for 783 yards and 10 touchdowns. Julian Fleming had a quiet game last week, but is still the 3rd leading receiver with 19 catches for 354 yards and 6 touchdowns. Cade Stover continues to be a threat in the pass game, and has 24 catches for 309 yard with 3 touchdowns. 

Northwestern Preview

It is not uncommon for the Wildcats to experience down years during the Pat Fitzgerald era, as they usually go from 1-2 win seasons, to Big Ten Championship game contenders in a 3-4 year cycle. This year has been a difficult year, with the only win for the Wildcats against Nebraska in Week 0 in Ireland where the fans probably dont remember anyway because the stadium was giving out free beer. They are in last place in the Big Ten West, and their season includes a loss to FCS opponent Southern Illinois. The Wildcats had the toughest crossover games in the division having to play Penn State, Maryland, and now Ohio State, who are 4th, 3rd, and tied for 1st respectively. On offense, they are averaging 17.9 points a game, while they are giving up 28.8 points a game on defense. They have the weather though in their favor, as it is expected to be cold and windy for an 11am local time kick off. 

Ryan Hilinski is the leading quarterback, and has passed for 1576 yards this season at a 57.8% completion rate. He has thrown 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has also added two scoring touchdowns on the ground. Brendan Sullivan has also played at quarterback this year and has 416 yards along with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and 44 yards rushing with a touchdown.

Evan Hull has been a standout player on this offense, rushing for 579 yards on 136 carries, and 3 touchdowns. He is also the second leading receiver with 46 catches for 461 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cam Porter is the second leading rusher with 62 carries for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Malik Washington is the leading receiver with 43 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown. Donny Navarro III is the third leading receiver with 29 catches for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Buckeye Spotlight

Ohio State Run Game. The weather might play a factor in this game, and the way Northwestern likes to challenge its opponents is by making its field the 12th man. It is supposed to ran the night before the game, and I wouldn’t put it past the Wildcats to not tarp the field. The Ohio State run game will be key, as it is the biggest opportunity for growth for this offense. 

Wildcat Spotlight

Peter Skoronski. If there is any bright light on this Northwestern team, it is left tackle Peter Skoronski, who is a projected 1st round pick. He will have a challenge ahead of him trying to block any combination of JT Tuimoloau, Tyreke Smith, Jack Sawyer, and Zach Harrison.

Water Cooler Stat of the Game

64-14-1 The all time record for these two teams is Ohio State leading the series 64-14-1, the last win for Northwestern in 2004 in Evanston 33-27.


Ohio State will play at Ryan Field for the last time to open up their final month of the regular season. Northwestern has not won in this hemisphere, with their lone win being a week 0 win against Northwestern in Ireland, and I am sure Pat Fitzgerald would have loved to have been able to bottle some of that luck. For the season, Northwestern is giving up double the amount of points that it is scoring, and gave up 33 points against an inept Iowa offense last week. Ohio State needs to take care of business these next three weeks, and work on improving the areas the need to tweak before the showdown against Michigan on November 26th. The fate of their season ultimately rests on that game, and after two straight weeks of a run game that has not gone over 100 yards in either game, this will be a great time to work on it. Ryan Day has shown mercy, and gamesmanship, and I feel like he won’t embarrass Pat Fitzgerald too much.

Ohio State 59 – Northwestern 0

Photo Credit: Land Grant Holy Land/Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK

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