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Ohio State takes the field Saturday against the Northwestern Wildcats on the road in Evanston, Illinois. Ryan Field will be the host for this matchup for the 35th time since opening in 1926. At home against the Buckeyes, the Wildcats are 6-29. The all-time series record stands at 64-14-1, with Ohio State holding the all-time lead. These two met most recently in the 2020 Big Ten Championship where the Bucks came out with a 22-10 victory. However, last time this game was played in Evanston, it was a 52-3 beatdown by the Buckeyes in 2019. Northwestern have not beaten Ohio State since 2004 at home 33-27.
This is the first time this season that Ohio State has had to play back-to-back games on the road after a successful visit to State College last week. That is the most difficult part of this weekend's game against Northwestern, as the Wildcats rank as the worst team in the Big Ten, having lost their last seven games and having just one win over Nebraska in Ireland in their first game of the season. Since then, Northwestern has lost to an FCS opponent, a MAC opponent and allowed 33-points to Iowa just last week.
While Ohio State has had their fair share of slow starts this season, this will not be one of them, as the Wildcats come in with the 83rd ranked scoring defense in the nation, allowing 29.75 points per game. Ohio State should be able to hit every big play they draw up. The Buckeyes should once against assert themselves with a strong running game, and Stroud will look to get back in the drivers seat for the Heisman race. Fans are going to change channels after a quarter of football as Ohio State should lead somewhere around 21-0.
The defense has pretty much done whatever they wanted the last few weeks for Ohio State, and that will be no different this time around either. The Wildcats offense ranks 120th out of 131 teams in scoring offense this season, with just 17.9 points per game. The Buckeye defense, which struggled to force turnovers in the first month of play, has become a force to be reckon with and will likely force at least two here on the road. With the great defensive performance for Ohio State, the second quarter will scream Buckeyes as they will likely lead 49-0 over the former Big Ten West Champions going into the half.
Realistically, the Buckeyes could pull their starters at halftime like many high school teams have done all season and be content with a first half beatdown, but in college, typically the starters play a full three quarters, so expect to see a little bit more playing time in this game for the reserves in the fourth quarter, but starters will continue to dominate in the third. With a downright terrible team this year, Northwestern won't be able to stop anything the Buckeyes want to do and that includes running the football, something Ohio State struggled with in their last two games against Penn State and Iowa, but this should be a game the Buckeyes will look to drain the clock in, so the third and fourth quarters will see the scoring cool off with smash mouth football. Ohio State will lead going into the fourth quarter somewhere around 59-0.
The backups will take over from there, and unless we see some big plays out of them, it will be Jesse Mirco's time to shine in the fourth quarter. The backup defense for Ohio State has been good but not great. They might let up a garbage time touchdown, but I am not counting on that being the case. Northwestern is going to run the football all night and go nowhere against this Buckeyes rush. This game should end with the Bucks on top with a potential shutout.
Score Prediction: OSU wins 59-0
Truthfully, the only thing that will stop this from happening is Ohio State. They can easily outperform even this bold prediction this weekend. If they show up ready to play following a hard fought game against Penn State, then they will eviscerate the Wildcats no problem. Ryan Day and his staff will just need to make sure not to call conservative plays like they did against Penn State and end this ballgame early.
Ohio State comes in as 37.5 point favorites this weekend on the road, which is one of the largest point spreads of the season. Northwestern has only been in a one-score game against Ohio State once since their 2004 victory over the Buckeyes, and that came back in 2016 in Columbus when the Buckeyes came out on top 24-20. Northwestern might cover this spread only because of how wide of a spread it really is, but a win by nearly 40 points does seem inevitable considering both teams seasons. The over/under is set at 61.5 points for this weekend. This number is one I do like. While I only predicted a score of 59-0, I believe the Buckeyes can outperform that number and they do tend to give up a sloppy touchdown here and there in these types of games. I would take the over for this game in a heartbeat.
How to Watch and Listen:
TV: 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC & WatchESPN
- Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analysis),Molly McGrath (sideline)
Radio: 97.1 (The Fan) FM/1460 AM
- Paul Keels (play-by-play), Jim Lachey (analysis), Matt Andrews (sideline)
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