Ohio State travelled to Evanston to face Northwestern for the first time since 2008. While the previous 4 meetings ended with an average score of (51.25 – 8.5), this one seriously broke the trend with the teams posting a 40-30 final. Braxton Miller struggled tonight with 3 turnovers, 2 fumbles and a pick, but threw 15/26 for 203 yards and ran 15 times for 68 yards. Northwestern ran a quarterback by committee with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian who combined for 24/29 passing for 350 yards 2 touchdowns and an interception. Kain Colter was amazing tonight connecting on all 11 of his passes.
Carlos Hyde was your player of the game for the night. Where the Buckeye offense was struggling, Carlos powered 26 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns, and 4 catches for 38 yards. In the passing game, Corey “Philly” Brown grabbed 6 passes for 127 yards. Northwestern’s Venric Mark carried 17 times for 60 yards, and caught 4 passes for 57 yards, while Rashad Lawrence received 8 passes for 147 yards.
For the first time this season Ohio State began the game with the ball, and they certainly didn’t waste any time. The offense came out of the gate fast and carved up the Northwestern secondary. Braxton Miller hit 4 straight passes to the left side of the field to rapidly bring the Buckeyes inside the red zone. A fifth pass to Evan Spencer on the right side didn’t gain much, and caused the Buckeyes to switch to the run – a mistake with the defensive look the Wildcats were presenting. The drive resulted in a short field goal after a near interception on third down.
Things looked similarly easy for the Wildcats in the early parts of their drive. A screen pass to Venric Mark, and a nice toss to the sideline found soft spots in the OSU coverage and gained the Wildcats decent yardage. But the Buckeye defense stiffened and forced a punt once Northwestern had made mid-field.
The Buckeyes switched strategies on the second drive. Their first play saw Hyde run straight up the gut with some fantastic blocking from the line for 10 yards. It was the second play that things took a turn for the worst. Braxton Miller ran a zone read with Carlos Hyde. The d-lineman looked to follow Hyde, causing Miller to pull the ball down. As he did, the lineman reached out and knocked the ball out of Miller’s grasp. No-one was around to scoop up the football except for players in the purple and black. Northwesterns offense took immediate advantage of the great field position, dropping a touchdown pass from 9 yards out to Kain Colter who ran as a receiver on the play.
It’s time for another rousing edition of Across the Web! This week, we chatted up our buddies over at Lake the Posts about the Ohio State @ Northwestern game. Enjoy!
The Buckeye Battle Cry: The Bye Week couldn’t have come at a better time for Northwestern, who’ve had some injury issues this season. How’s the health of Kain Colter and the rest of the Wildcats heading into B1G play?
Lake the Posts: Depends on who you ask. The stats for bye week teams is less than flattering. Kain Colter is fine after missing the Cal game with a concussion. The real focus has been on Venric Mark, who ‘Cats fans haven’t seen since the Cal game (he took a few snaps, but hasn’t played since). The vague “lower body” injury, which we know to be a hamstring injury, has sidelined our first All-American in eight seasons. Mark is a gamechanger. ‘Cats fans are worried that he hasn’t had game reps and now has to make his first real significant appearance on this stage after 5 weeks out. After watching OSU’s “D” against Wisconsin’s RBs, there is reason for concern.
tBBC: Pat Fitzgerald is a defensive guru by nature, but the Wildcat offense is what makes the headlines. Who are two standouts on the defensive side of the ball?
The #4/3 Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) move their Prime Time show from Columbus, OH to Evanston, IL for another 8:00 PM kickoff. The opponents, the undefeated (4-0, 0-0) #16/15 Northwestern Wildcats. Yes, another night game against another ranked B1G team.
When I saw this game on the schedule, I was only mildly concerned about the outcome. And that was based on the 2004 night game debacle in Evanston, not on this year’s talent/performance. Northwestern will be a different challenge from Wisconsin, in that, despite what we saw on Saturday, the Wildcats bring a legitimate balanced offense into this game.
Northwestern has two legitimate quarterbacks in Kain Colter (27-35, 264 yds, 4TD, 2INT)/Trevor Siemian (47-70, 671, 3,2), two quality running backs in Venric Mark (if healthy)/Treyvon Green (101 YPG)and two quality receivers in Tony Jones/Christian Jones (39 Rec, 15 YPR, 5TD). Their offense is also a bit different from Wiscy’s in that rather than relying on raw power, Northwestern brings more speed and elusiveness to the field.
Last year’s all-everything running back Venric Mark appears to be healthy enough to be listed on the Wildcats depth chart as the starting running back for Saturday. This could be a Carlos Hyde situation where a player comes back to play in a big game after a 2-3 game layoff. Whether Venric Mark gets the every down workload remains to be seen, but I expect him to see spot duty in the backfield and to line up as kick/punt returner. Last year, Venric was 2nd team all-conference as a running back, and All-American as a punt returner, so look for Pat Fitzgerald and his staff to put him in positions to handle the ball, particularly in the open field.
Tim checks in again looking at the guy behind the guy behind the guy across the B1G
Throwing the forward pass is a big question mark for the majority of Big Ten quarterbacks. Their athleticism, though, is not.
Many of the 2012 Big Ten starting quarterbacks are doing everything they can to fight the stereotype of “game manager.” For a conference usually classified by others as boring, I see only four of the 12 projected starters as “pro-style” quarterbacks; the rest can be classified as “dual-threats” or “athletes.”
With that said, I give to you my 2012 Big Ten quarterback rankings.
12. Matt McGloin (Penn State): McGloin has started ten games in his Nittany Lion career, but just hasn’t gotten any better. However, he’s far and away PSU’s best option at quarterback. Last year, McGloin threw for 1,571 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. With the Penn State program in such turmoil, it would be nice if they had a savior at quarterback. Matt McGloin is not that.
11. Tre Roberson (Indiana): Although he was just a true freshman, Roberson struggled as Indiana’s starting quarterback last year. His rushing ability can make him a dangerous player for defense to account for. And in Roberson’s defense, he plays for Indiana.
10. Andrew Maxwell (Michigan State): Maxwell sat behind Kirk Cousins for two seasons, not getting many opportunities to show off his talent. Inexperience is the reason why I have Maxwell ranked where I do. He’s got the physical skills, but just simply hasn’t played in enough games yet for me to rate him any higher than ten.
9. Kain Colter (Northwestern): Colter may not be the best natural quarterback for the Wildcats, but he’s definitely their best athlete. In addition to quarterback, he also spent time playing running back and wide receiver for Northwestern. In 2011, Colter threw for 673 yards and six touchdowns, ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 43 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. For Northwestern, it is simple: Get him the damn ball.
8. Caleb TerBush (Purdue): From everything I’ve heard, Purdue doesn’t even know who its starting quarterback is going to be. It’s a race between TerBush and Robert Marve, who has been playing college football for about fifteen years now. My guess is the Boilermakers will go with TerBush, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
7. MarQueis Gray (Minnesota): Gray has all of the physical tools to be an All-Big Ten selection. The 6’4” 240 quarterback has a deadly combination of size and speed, but he hasn’t lived up to all of his hype—now entering his senior season. He did take major strides last season, though, under coach Jerry Kill. Gray threw for nearly 1,500 yards last season and ran for 966, scoring 14 total touchdowns. But, like Roberson, Gray does not have much help as he plays for a team that finished 3-9 last season.
6. Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois): Illini fans were left wanting more from Scheelhaase in 2011. After a very promising freshman campaign in which he threw for over 1,800 yards, ran for 868 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns, Scheelhaase showed little improvement in h is sophomore season. In fact, many Illinois supporters say he took a step backwards during his sophomore campaign. He threw for just 13 touchdowns and ran for 624 yards. Losing superstar wide receiver A.J. Jenkins won’t make things easier for him either, but Scheelhaase is another dual-threat quarterback that has the ability to drive opposing coaches crazy.