Ohio State University 2022
It was a wet and windy Saturday north of the windy city, as Ohio State took the field against the Northwestern Wildcats. The Buckeyes offense had a major problem going against Mother Nature with a dozen players out Saturday, including starting running back TreVeyon Henderson and star wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba. They were also playing with just three scholarship running backs available. This game was not at all like I predicted, but a big reason why was the weather. There was on and off rain all afternoon and sustained winds of 30 miles per hour and gusts of over 50 miles per hour.
Ohio State did not cover the 37.5-point spread that was set for this game and were well short of the over/under of 55.5. Hopefully betters took a more in-depth look into the weather than I did, as if they had, no one would have taken either of those bets. Despite a game full of problems, Ohio State did break an FBS record, as for the 70th consecutive game, they scored 20+ points. However, the record for consecutive 44+ points in Big Ten play was snapped, as Ohio State ended tied with the 1901-02 Wolverines squad for most all-time at seven.
This game started ugly, stayed ugly, and really never looked good for anyone. Ohio State had five punts on their seven first half drives and were 0-8 on third down. Northwestern was the only team to make a trip to the end zone in the first quarter with an 80-yard drive that ended with Evan Hull in the end zone. Ohio State was outgained on the ground by Northwestern and were held to just 118 yards in total after one half in Evanston, but outside of this long drive, Northwestern was able to muster just 60-yards on their other six drives.
The Buckeyes wideouts not named Marvin Harrison Jr. could not remember how to catch a football Saturday, as Julian Fleming had just one catch on six targets in the first half.
However, Emeka Egbuka would take a jet sweep into the end zone after a C.J. Stroud read option keeper set the Buckeyes up inside the red zone, and Egbuka would finish it off to tie the ball game with Northwestern at seven a piece going into halftime.
Out of the break, Ohio State was finally able to get their run game moving, as Miyan Williams had a couple of nice runs on their first drive, including a 27-yard touchdown run to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the afternoon. C.J. Stroud had a lot of struggles with the weather, as he could not hit open wideouts all afternoon. However, even when he did put the ball in his wide receivers hands, they dropped the football as Egbuka had a touchdown in his hands but couldn't hang on to the ball while on the run.
Northwestern went on a big fourth quarter drive to open up the final leg of the game, driving from inside the five all the way down to the Buckeye 36. On 4th and 8, Northwestern went for it, but the throw from Brendan Sullivan was wide, and the Wildcats failed to convert on fourth down for the third time. The Buckeyes defense continued to play well when they needed to with the offense having its struggles.
When the Buckeyes needed him the most, the Heisman candidate showed up big on a 44-yard run to set the offense up inside of the five-yard line. Then, he would keep it again on the next play, and he dove down to the two. Stroud came in with -4 rushing yards on the season and would put the notion that he could not run to rest with his performance against Northwestern. From their, the Buckeyes gave it to Williams and he punched in his second touchdown of the game to extend the lead for good 21-7.
Northwestern's final drive was stunted by the injury of their starting quarterback, as Ryan Hilinski came into the game and was unable to complete a pass and turned the ball over on fourth down, the fourth time that happened in the game. Ohio State took over up 21-7 around midfield with just over three minutes to go and would run out the clock to keep the Buckeyes perfect season alive.
While this game certainly was not the game fans nor players or coaches wanted to have, a win is a win, and if Ohio State wins out, they are in the Big Ten Championship and the College Football Playoff. Ohio State's offense needs to figure out who they are because at the moment, they are a bunch of superstars on a field; they aren't a team. That's what is going to be the difference maker for the Buckeyes this season.
If they can start playing together and become a unit, they can beat any team in the country by 30, but if Harrison Jr. is going to be the only weapon, then they are going to lose "The Game" in late November by 30.
Defensively, the numbers didn't look great overall, but they only allowed one score and played their best when they needed to. All eyes are going to be focused on the Buckeyes matchup at the end of the season with just Indiana and Maryland left on the schedule before the big one at the end of the year, but each of those game present their own issues that Ohio State will have to address if they want to stay perfect.
"This was a weird game, and I'm glad it's behind us," Ryan Day said postgame, and this pretty much summed up everything that happened on Saturday, November 5th, 2022 in northern Illinois.
Player of the game - Miyan Williams
Despite some early struggles to establish the run game, Ohio State was forced to keep this game in the hands of Miyan Williams due to weather and injuries, and he was able to manage the game well and keep the Buckeyes offense moving. This award easily could have gone to Stroud, who snapped off the biggest runs of the day, but he would not have been able to get the runs he did without the 20-plus carry day from Williams. Williams also finished with two rushing touchdowns and over 100 yards rushing.
C.J. Stroud: 10/26, 76 yards passing, 6 carries, 79 yards rushing, long of 44 yards
Miyan Williams: 26 carries, 111 yards rushing, 2 TD's, long of 27 yards
Emeka Egbuka: 2 carries, 21 yards rushing, 1 TD, a long of 15 yards, 2 rec, 6 yards receiving
Marvin Harrison Jr.: 5 rec, 51 yards
11/12 vs Indiana, TBD
11/19 at Maryland, TBD
11/27 vs TTUN, Noon, ABC
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