The Buckeyes traveled to Evanston, Ill. for their first conference road game. You may have heard it was kind of a big deal. The Northwestern Wildcats entered the game as a nationally ranked team with aspirations of taking a step forward as a program.
College Gameday picked the game as their weekly stop, giving everyone on the Northwestern campus a chance to get up early and make clever signs. Tickets were in demand — for a Northwestern game. Many considered this Ohio State’s toughest game of the year, including the finale in Ann Arbor.
Would Ohio State rise to the occasion in prime time for the second consecutive week? Could the Wildcats pull off the upset and move into the nation’s top 10? Would either team’s offense be able to function normally in the expected heavy weather? Would there be a hangover after the Wisconsin win?
Yes. Almost. Yes. Kind of.
Let’s get to the quick overview of Ohio State’s 18th consecutive victory.
Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)
The Buckeyes opened with one of the worst halves of football we’ve seen in recent years. They gave up big plays on defense, made mistakes on offense and turned the ball over. Still, a blocked punt for a touchdown by Bradley Roby kept them in the game, trailing 20-13 at the half. In the second half, Ohio State’s defensive line stepped up its game and Carlos Hyde ran wild, scoring three touchdowns in a 40-30 win that was a real struggle. Doran Grant pitched in with a key interception to help turn it around.
Talk before the game
“Rain definitely favors Ohio State.”
“Rain definitely favors Northwestern.”
“Neither team is going to be able to throw deep tonight.”
Also this bit of sadness:
Update on Jordan Hall: knee injury means he won't go tonight.
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 5, 2013
Talk in the aftermath
“Carlos Hyde is a total baller.”
“ESPN is calling this win ‘controversial’ for some reason.”
#BuckeyeNation took over another stadium tonight! As I said before... Ohio State always gets the other teams best effort! Great 'home' win!
— Jeff Boals (@JeffBoals) October 6, 2013
Carlos Hyde is a truck disguised as a running back.
— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2013
Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)
It might never be easier to pick the player of the game. Carlos Hyde went into total beast mode after the break and was the horse that carried the Buckeyes to victory. After carrying 10 times for 56 yards in the first half, El Guapo lugged it 16 times for 112 yards and three touchdowns in the final two quarters.
He finished with a career high 168 yards on 26 carries (6.5 YPC) and caught four passes for 38 more yards. Moreover, he ran angry and provided the spark and the leadership on the field that Ohio State needed. He was, quite frankly, a man among boys, even when Northwestern was expecting him to run it.
Snot Knocker of the Game
Late in the game, Ohio State needed to pick up a couple of first downs to ice the game. Hyde broke into the clear on second-and-five and picked up the first down. But just past the mark to make, Hyde met Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell in a huge collision that momentarily left both men dazed. Both were able to continue, but that was a huge hit and Hyde showed his toughness by hanging onto the ball.
Did you see that?! (Play of the game)
Ohio State’s first touchdown — and only one in the first half — was a jailbreak against Northwestern’s punter. Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier met at Brandon Williams’ leg. They got the ball and then Williams went flying through the air as Roby sat down and calmly grabbed the football for the score. Urban Meyer’s teams are 20-0 when blocking a punt.
When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)
The Buckeyes trailed by 10 after Northwestern opened the third quarter with a field goal, extending the lead to 23-13. Ohio State responded with a seven-play, 58-yard drive, taking the ball deep into Wildcat territory. But Braxton Miller fumbled at the Northwestern two-yard line to kill the drive. It was the fourth turnover of the game (if, like me, you count the failed fake punt as a turnover) and it gave Northwestern the ball with a two-score lead. Things looked kind of bad at that point. Even though the Buckeyes responded, that was maybe the lowest point of the game and Urban Meyer momentarily considered putting in Kenny Guiton for the next series.
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game
It was fourth-and-three in the second quarter with the ball on Ohio State’s 32. Less than five minutes remained in the first half. Tressel was tucked into his bed with the lights out and the TV on. Propped up on his pillows with a stocking cap on his head and a glass of warm milk on the night stand, the former OSU coach watched in horror as freshman Buckeye punter Cameron Johnston took the snap and started running. There was a possible lane up the middle, but the Australian tried to reach daylight to the wide side of the field and was dropped for a two-yard loss. “Well, that’s just a silly call right there,” Tressel said. “Like Dejan Stojanovic might say, your hubris was melted into humility right there. Yes sir.”
What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter
First: ROBY-1 KENOBI BLOCK PARTY!
Second: Worst half of the year and still within a TD on the road against a Top 20 team. Can we bounce back?
Third: That was better. Let’s finish strong!
Fourth: Never in doubt. Double digit win.
It was over when
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter fumbled the snap on fourth-and-one in Ohio State territory with less than three minutes to play. Colter scooped it up and had the presence of mind to pick up his knee before doing so, but the play blew up and the Buckeyes took over on downs. Ohio State bled the clock down to the final 26 seconds and pinned Northwestern deep. The Wildcats technically still had a shot but it was always going to be pretty close to impossible to pull out the win at that point.
The Buckeyes have a bye week next Saturday and return to the Shoe on Oct. 19 to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1). Iowa lost 26-14 to Michigan State yesterday and will join Ohio State on a bye on Oct. 12.