After the Buckeyes escaped Evanston with a victory, let’s see how many of experts escaped with wishes that came true.
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.
The Buckeyes are in Evanston to play the Wildcats of Northwestern in their hometown. The game is scheduled to kick at 8pm on ABC.
Come be a part of the 5 year tradition of Buckeye Livechats and talk football with all of your favorite Buckeye bloggers! We’ll be getting things going at around 7:30, and dutifully muting the TV for Eminem.
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 Arizona Wildcats gave the Buckeyes a rude welcome to the Sweet 16 to start, but the Buckeyes put together an excellent run to reclaim the lead and put the game away 73-70 on a last second LaQuinton Ross three pointer to advance to the Elite Eight. Despite the rough start, the game developed into a back and forth battle that Arizona very nearly reclaimed. DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes with 20 points, and was joined in scoring by LaQuinton Ross (17), Aaron Craft (15), and Sam Thompson (11). Arizona was led by Mark Lyons’ 20 points, along with Solomon Hill’s 16.
Arizona controlled the first half for the balance on the strength of a stifling defensive effort. The work shutting down the OSU offense turned into easy points on the other end for the Cats, often on the fast break, but also against a surprising flat Buckeye defense. Of course, that wasn’t about to stop the Wildcats from building a double digit lead with their three point shooting, mostly while Aaron Craft sat on the bench with 2 fouls. But, Thad Matta wasn’t going to let it stay that way. With six minutes to go in the half, Matta risked putting Craft back into the game to try regain control of the momentum. The strategy worked brilliantly, allowing the Bucks to finish on a 12-6 run to close to within 4 points going into the locker room.
What didn’t help the effort for either team was the ludicrous pace of the game as dictated by the officials. I won’t say that the calls were necessarily wrong, but with both teams in the bonus with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half, there were certainly a lot of them. Only at the very end of the half did the officials seem to loosen up on the controls and allow the players to simply play the game.
The Buckeyes came out of the half ready to play basketball. OSU jumped out on a quick 8-0 run on the strength of their own tough defense to take their first lead since the opening possessions. They were able to continue to push that momentum to a solid 8 point lead while continuing to suppress Arizona’s scoring. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t to last. After building up a 10 point lead, the Buckeyes found themselves taking fire from Solomon Hill of Arizona, who sank 9 straight points and brought the game within four.
The Buckeyes have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 4th time in as many years on the strength of an Aaron Craft dagger – which I’m sure everyone has seen by now. Next up are the 6th-seeded Wildcats of Arizona in sunny Los Angeles.
For more on Sean Miller’s team, check out Ken’s work from a couple days ago.
Join us and The Buckeye Blog, Buckeye Empire, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, and Buckeye Ninja as we cheer on the Buckeyes in tournament time! The chat will kick off around 7:30 PM Eastern, with tip off on TBS (note the “T”!) around 7:47 pm.
Special thanks to Fox Sports Ohio for graciously helping with these livechats all year long!
After two intense, focused, well-played games against Minnesota and Michigan State, Ohio State went to Evanston for the return match against Northwestern. Despite being substantially undermanned, the game pretty much went as they usually do in Evanston. The Buckeyes took down the Wildcats 63-53. It was anything but easy, and everything you’ve come to expect when these teams play in Evanston. Lenzelle Smith led all scorers with 24 points while DeShaun Thomas scored 19 for the game. Northwestern saw only Tre Demps (14) and Dave Sobolewski (13) score in double digits for the game.
The Bucks squeaked out this win to get closer to a #4 seed in Big Ten Tourney. After exploding out of the gates, thanks to Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s 3-point deluge, the Buckeyes settled into some uninspired offense. After DeShaun Thomas got the show started with a field goal 17 seconds into the game, by the 17:00 mark, ‘Zelle was 3-3 from ‘3’. Halfway through the 1st half, OSU had a 20-10 lead. Things flattened out quite a bit as they only managed 9 more points and went into half 29-22.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes did manage to play some defense, limiting Northwestern to 7 field goals (35%), while committing 6 turnovers. This was a half of wasted opportunities; defense played reasonably well enough, but the offense hit stretches where it just stalled. For example, in the last four minutes of the half, OSU was 0-4 from the field.
The 2nd half started with aggressive play from the Wildcats as they got whistled for 4 fouls in just over a minute of play. They also found their range, making their first four FG’s and 2 Ft’s to pull with 2, 36-34. The 1st half offensive woes were solved for the moment. Meanwhile OSU went cold.
In the end, the Bucks managed to retake the lead with 3:50 to play on a trey by Smith. Then, similarly to the game in Columbus, OSU was able to gradually pull away for the final margin. The win moves the Buckeyes to 21-7, 11-5 for the season.
Riding a two game win streak, including last Sunday’s great win over the Spartans, the Buckeyes are now facing what may or may not be an extremely dangerous test – the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Illinois. The pretty kitties have a tendency to play tenacious basketball at home, and the Bucks haven’t always done so well against the Princeton Offense, but the sheer quantity of injuries to the ‘Cats might make it difficult for them.
Today’s game is scheduled for 7 PM EST on the Big Ten Network. The LiveBlog is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip.