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?