Debriefing: Northwestern

By Michael Citro on October 6, 2013 at 10:30a
Buckeyes win another "road" game.

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:

Talk in the aftermath

“Carlos Hyde is a total baller.”

“ESPN is calling this win ‘controversial’ for some reason.”

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


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.


Comments Show All Comments

osubuck57's picture

Definitely an up and down game for us. They couldn't stop El Guapo, and we couldn't cover WRs. And of course, their was the poor tackling, yet again...sigh. Bosa and Bennett were absolute monsters for us with their relentless pressures. Braxton was very un-Braxton like last night with just spurts. Three turnovers normally will cost you a game. Someone was smiling down on us. Hats off to Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald. They played well enough to win.


Bamabucknut's picture

You captured my thoughts.But to throw a few thoughts.......
Braxton is still injured imo.He cannot run like last year.That is obvious.
OSU linebackers and secondary were shredded again through the air.countless missed tackles
What's wrong with someone other than Hyde carrying the ball just to spell him?

D-Day0043's picture

They put in Smith and Elliot to spell Hyde, they just didn't do anything. Smith has been completely ineffective.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Paulillo's picture

Smith is averaging 6.4 yard per carry this year, which is very good. Why do you think he's been ineffective?

The Butler's picture

Here is what I don't understand: ESPN Gameday was in Evanston yesterday. The game was ABC's Game of the Week. Ohio State wins the game by 10, but I get the feeling that they will drop in the polls. Why? Because Northwestern is perceived to be an average or below average program. Why would ABC/ESPN waste so much time, effort, and MONEY pumping up a game that contains a perennial powerhouse and an average team? I thought Gameday and ABC's Game Night were supposed to be at the best game of the week. 

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


bucksfan92's picture

We won't drop in the polls.  The national media is actually treating this like a big win.  I stlil find it hard to take NW seriously, but I think that view is pretty much limited to us fans.  UGA should drop at least 2 spots needing a miracle to beat a horrendous Tennessee team, that will be the true test of whether voting is unbiased or not (and I think we know the answer).
In the end it won't matter, if OSU is 13-0 they are 100% assured of a spot in the NGC.  Just win out, everything else will take care of itself.

mb5599's picture

Unfortunately, if any of Stanford, Oregon, Clemson and maybe Florida State are undefeated at the end of the season, we dont get into the NCG. I love Ohio State too, but you have to face reality.  Our SOS will keep us from jumping anyone.  Plus the media doesnt believe we are that good.  Take for example last night's win at Northwestern.  The media is already saying we got some favorable calls, Northwestern was'nt that good, etc.  Yet, they are all over Stanford's jock because they beat a Washington team.  We won on the road against a similarily ranked opponent while Stanford won by 3 on their home field. We have to hope everyone else loses and that Bitchigan wins out and is highly ranked at the end of the year to have a shot.    

Big B

bucksfan92's picture

Possibly, but keep in mind that the media has nothing to say about the rankings.  OSU is ahead of all of those teams, except Oregon, in the coaches' poll.  Harris generally mirrors the coaches' poll since it is football people ranking the teams.  Also, I don't think we are going to have more than 2 undefeated teams at the end of the year - we rarely ever do. That is what I mean about things taking care of themselves.  

mb5599's picture

Clemson, Oregon, Stanford will shoot by us in the next few weeks because of their schedule. This is why I have been saying from week 1 we needed to beat the competition like a drum.  Style points do matter. I was downvoted quite a bit after the Buffalo game when I said we didnt beat them by enough.  Our schedule is weak, the Big 10 is better than last year but still weak, and the pundits don't like us.  We need to hammer Iowa, Purdue, Penn State, and Indiana by at least 2-3 touchdowns, our defense needs to be stout, and we need Bitchigan to win out and have Northwestern and Wisconsin remain ranked.  

Big B

INTLBUCK's picture

Doesn't anyone think we will get some credit with voters after the B1G championship game if we are actually riding a 25-0 win streak?  
Doesn't that count for something?  We have to go 38-0?

INTLBUCK's picture

Thank you for the down-vote. However, I was actually looking for an ANSWER, not just a mouse-click. 
I think it's a legitimate question. Would 25-0 not give us the slightest boost in the polls?

jayt's picture

Bucksfan, question:  if we squeak by our remaining opponents and barely win by 3 points each, do you still think we go to the BCSCG with a 13-0 record?  i dont think so.  We need an SEC/PAC12 team to lose.

bucksfan92's picture

If we only beat PU, Illinois, IU, and PSU by 3 we have major problems.  But again as I mentioned above I don't see 3 or 4 or 5 teams being undefeated.  Alabama looks nowhere near as good as last year, Stanford is clearly vulnerable, and Oregon has played a weaker schedule than we have so far, so we know nothing about them yet. I cannot fathom a scenario where a 13-0 OSU team is left out.

Toilrt Paper's picture

How can Ohio State drop in the Polls when most pollsters had Ohio State losing those games.

ScarletGray43157's picture

NU's offense is above average, I will grant you that.
NU's defense is ranked 85th, so yes that is below average.  Offense puts butts in the seats and defense wins championships.  NU is not championship caliber and the win needs to be framed in that reality.  Nice win yes, but against a pedestrian defense at best.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

CUBS's picture

Also doesnt help when Florida State beats ranked Maryland 63-0.

AndyVance's picture

Cubs brings up a good point - a couple of teams are getting some good breaks, while we're getting none. FSU gets to play a team that was never expected to be ranked (and won't be ranked for long), while we should have been playing back-to-back unbeaten, ranked opponents, and the Pac-12 officials effed that up for us.

Jabba the Hoke's picture

If we were to beat any B1G team like that, ranked or not, the conversation would be that the other team isn't that good. Maryland is a future B1G team, we'll see what is said.

QBYBuckeye's picture

Yes.  Maryland is rank. 

New York Buckeye

Phoenix824's picture

Maryland being ranked was a joke.    They won't even sniff a ranking again this year

bucksfan92's picture

Any idea how sever the knee injury is for Hall? I hope it is a minor ding and he will be good to go in 2 weeks. Having him and Hyde both at 100% for the stretch run will really enable us to control games on the ground.  Imagine both of those guys with fresh legs in the 4th quarter.

ScarletGray43157's picture

If Miller had still been a Heisman contender this game would have put that in serious doubt.  A decent road win against a team with a better than average offense and a worse than average defense.  The Bucks (and specifically Miller for the most part) kept NU in the game.  
NU may be the best opponent in the B1G schedule for OSU.  If so, the conference is clearly not strong this year.  Take away the turnovers, and add TDs where we settled for FGs, and this is a 24 point win going away.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

awlinBrutus's picture

"IF" my Aunt had a beard she'd be my uncle.


bucknut3011's picture

Or a serious hormone imbalance.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Northwesterns defense is above average according to the rankings.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

buckeye85's picture

This thinking is flawed.  NU forced those TO's, they stripped Brax and made the plays they needed to keep tOSU out of the endzone.  Until Hyde took over, NU was playing sound D, they were keeping everything in front of them and making tOSU string together drives.  They were giving up yards, but always seemed to get us in a third down situation.  This is what Fickell is trying to do, key word trying, but the bend don't break is allowing teams to pick us apart.  The only time they were successful on D was when they brought pressure with tight coverage on the outside.

D-Day0043's picture

They also gave up a gigantic catch and run on NW's last TD drive playing press coverage. The secondary just isn't very good. They have to pick their poison when they call a defense.

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741's picture

Braxton can't possibly be in contention for the Heisman this year. I hope reporters will stop asking questions about that now. 

Earle's picture

This was a very good, albeit very frustrating win.  It wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but Ohio State played a good team on the road in prime time under subpar field conditions, survived the loss of a key offensive contributor, a poor performance from its star quarterback, at least one really silly decision from its head coach, an uninspired defensive performance, and an incomprehensible defensive game plan, and still got out of town with a double-digit win.
All the planets were aligned for a NW upset, but Ohio State prevailed.  If the Buckeyes meet the 'Cats again, and odds are they will, the game will not be as close.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

IBleedSandG's picture

All the planets were aligned for a NW upset, but Ohio State prevailed.

^This. I think this win will help this team going forward. To have a comeback win on the road vs. a solid opponent should help the teams confidence.
We still have yet to see this team play anything close to a complete game.


awlinBrutus's picture

Sorry this loss is squarely on the shoulders of Fitzgerald. He's down 4 points and running the clock out? you cannot play to "not lose". right Jim Tressel?


KillrNut's picture

Whoever is in charge of the live chat closed it early, before that TD on the last play.
Anyway, this game was more of a battle than I expected it to be. Defense (particularly Roby) needs to wrap up and tackle. Gameballs to Hyde and the D-Line.
18 down, 8 to go. Go Bucks!

MN Buckeye's picture

I don't understand why we rush only 3 D-linemen in critical situations. That rarely ends well. When we put pressure on the QB we were stopping drives.

GoBucks10's picture

Dropping 8 and then STILL leaving people wide-open is starting to become extremely frustrating.

"Because I couldn't go for three."  - Woody Hayes

mb5599's picture

At first I was upset that our corners always played off the receivers.  Now, after watching the past few games, I understand why Fickell is doing that.  Our secondary has been exposed when they are up against decent quarterbacks.  Roby is not the lockdown corner we had hoped for when the season began and the loss of Chirstian Bryant hurts as well. 

Big B

GoBucks10's picture

Fair enough, but on the red zone, it really needs to change.

"Because I couldn't go for three."  - Woody Hayes

RBuck's picture

Yep. The defense was at their best when they played tight on the WR's and rushed 5 to the QB.

Long live the southend.

GoBucks10's picture

The bye week is going to do wonders to recover from the multitude of heart attacks and strokes I suffered druing this game.
I care more about finishing undefeated than where these polls end up.  At this point, it's almost a given we are going to get looked past.  Hopefully Georgia is treated similarly to us in the polls, otherwise it's all a joke as we already knew.

"Because I couldn't go for three."  - Woody Hayes

TatumRuled's picture

The mental-image of Tress wearing a stocking cap cracked me up!The only thing missing was Ellen wearing curlers and a sleeping blindfold.

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

Buckabroad's picture

Love your post-game write-ups. Thank you!

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

BoFuquel's picture

Now this was Ohio State football. Feelin' Good! My favorite game since TSUN St. last year.FANBUCKINGTASTIC! GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Harold's picture

Mark my words...Braxton is back. UFM shrunk his head by "warming up The Old Right-hander". He will be electric moving forward.

Ahhh, the smell of Chris Spielman's Dirty Socks...

Brutus's picture

I have no analysis or insight to provide which hasn't already been mentioned.  However, I'd like to point out that Venric Mark might be the baddest name of all time.  If my parents had named me Venric Mark, there is no telling what I might have done with my life.

D-Day0043's picture

I wish my parents had named me Laverneus. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.'s picture

One of my takeaways from this game is that Braxton will be back next year. Is it too early to make that call?  

QBYBuckeye's picture

Wisconsin was our toughest opponent, but we caught them at home on a good day and dominated.  Northwestern was our toughest game because we caught them in Evanston on a bad day after they had two weeks to prepare, but we still won. 
Each week brings its own challenge.  This week the challenge is:  Do we prepare for Indiana or TTUN? 
Oh?  Our next opponent is Iowa?  LOL

New York Buckeye

Harold's picture

We are probably going to work on scUM at least a little from here on out.

Ahhh, the smell of Chris Spielman's Dirty Socks...

cal3713's picture

"but that was a huge hit and Hyde showed his toughness by hanging onto the ball."
And somewhow, impossibly, still falling forward two yards.

hspbuy1's picture

What a great game! Our D-Line really gelled last night! I love college football!


lax20's picture

The bye gives the Bucks a chance to look at Eli Apple, Cam Burrows and Vonn Bell in the defensive backfield.  The young Bucks deserve a chance, because Roby, Grant and Brown are lost.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

My takeaways:
Bennett has been an absolute revelation. Great feet and very clever moves to shed blockers. Bosa is the real deal. O-linemen are consistently having trouble blocking him due to his quickness and strength. I'm hoping we tweak our defensive strategy now, knowing our D-line can be dominant. I'm not as down on the LBs as others. They're active, but I don't think the coaches are putting them in the right places.
I wish I shared everyone's optimism about Braxton. The QB read has become a steady 5-7 yard gain, but at the expense of a potentially dynamic offense. Lots and lots of 3rd and 5's over the last couple of weeks. I don't think Urban warming up Guiton was an idle threat either: ball security is issue #1 and Brax was sloppy last night.
Hyde carried the load as much due to his protection of the ball as his bulldozing NU tacklers. The early turnovers and scoreboard, I think, gave Urban pause to put Zeke and Smith in their more. Smith ran fine when he got the ball. Hyde is running himself back into game shape.

Alice in Aggieland's picture

The early turnovers and scoreboard, I think, gave Urban pause to put Zeke and Smith in their more.

Add in the slippery, poor field conditions. (Seriously, when was the last time NW cut their damn grass?) You've got a guy who's experienced, big, strong, fast, and - most of all - consistent; you run him all day. I like Zeke a lot, and Smith has a ton of upside, but when you're playing a game like last night's, you go with the guy you trust to pick up yards and not cough up the ball. Zeke's an unknown entity in bad situations, and Rod isn't known for his sticky fingers.

pjtobin's picture

I honestly wish I had a better understanding of our d. I am so used to our d being elite that watching what we are giving up each game is blowing my mind. Please someone who knows the X's and O's better than me explain our d struggles. I thought Roby was a island? What happened?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

moopdawg's picture

I don't get it either, bro.  The back 7 seem to have poor fundamentals when it comes to tackling, and coverages break down badly at least once a game.  Our guys are looking silly as the are constantly overunning plays.  Maybe we need guys like Speilman, Winfield, and Jenkins  to run a tackling clinic for these kids.

Toilrt Paper's picture

It all starts with the front four. A four man rush is not consistently putting pressure on the QB, as we thought would be the case pre-season. The opponent's receivers are getting plenty of time to run double move routes. ANY receiver can get open if he has 5+ seconds. The QB has plenty of time to look the secondary over more than once. Our linebackers are not good at pass coverage. There should be 6 DBs on the field on 3rd and long and 2nd and longer. 
There is A LOT more going on (or going wrong) than the 4 DB's having problems.

BeijingBucks's picture

Gilligan was an island too?

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Adambob's picture

I'm glad coach Tressel showed more restraint than me on that fake punt.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Carlos Hyde is a truck disguised as a running back.

So he's a Transformer, eh?  #IronHyde, anyone?

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama